Texas School for the Deaf (TSD) in Austin, Texas, is a state-operated primary and secondary school for deaf children to help them learn, grow and belong. The oldest public school in Texas that has been continually in operation, Texas School for the Deaf’s goal is for every child across the state of Texas who is deaf or hard of hearing to receive educational services that meet his or her unique needs. With that goal in mind, the TSD facility supports specialized educational programs, teaching strategies and essential resources in five key areas that enhance learning opportunities and promote educational excellence for these children, while also providing needed support to their families and the professionals who serve them.
The school opened in 1857 with just an old farm house, three log cabins and a smokehouse. In the 1960s, an east campus was built. In the late 1980s, plans began to consolidate TSD’s two campuses into 458,000 square feet of new construction. One reason for the $65 million-dollar appropriation by the state Legislature was a sense that the School for the Deaf facilities were both outdated and inefficient. Another reason was the hope that consolidating the campuses would save money—one campus would need one health center instead of two, one security department, one maintenance department and one cafeteria. One hundred and sixty three years after opening, the campus now has 11 buildings on site, a football field, running track and over 550 students attending.
In 2015, over 15 years after the new campus was built, several buildings were experiencing water intrusion. Chamberlin kicked off a four-year project to rectify the water intrusion and re-roof different sections of the campus.
Top of Class Safety Plan
While the buildings under construction were not occupied, the school was still operating during construction so the protection of not only crew members but also students and teachers was a primary focus. Chamberlin began by developing a site-specific safety plan for the project, and the superintendent communicated the plan to all crew members. A Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) was also developed for this project which covered each task on the job, potential hazards associated with those tasks and how to prevent those hazards from causing an accident. The superintendent reviewed it with crew members each day before work began.
Warning and directional signage as well as designated pathways were in place for foot traffic. Visible signage was of high importance for those who may not be able to receive an audible warning if they approach potential safety hazards. All equipment was inspected daily by a competent person before use. Personal protective equipment was worn at all times, and Chamberlin’s zero tolerance fall protection policy was in place. Weekly toolbox talks were held for all crews covering pertinent safety topics and reinforcing Chamberlin’s safety policies and procedures.
A Calculated Approach
Chamberlin’s scope included modified bitumen roofing, prefinished metal panels, cementitious and reactive waterproofing, through-wall flashing, joint sealants and expansion control. The metal deck under the modified bitumen roofing system on the Seeger Gym was rusted to the point of needing to be replaced. This replacement had to be completed in a 24-hour time period due to weather concerns with the building being exposed. This meant the new modified bitumen roof installation would begin as the metal decking was laid, so both would be installed simultaneously.
The crews worked around the clock with steel fabricator Patriot Erectors to complete the removal and replacement of the metal decking, an inspection of the decking and the new roof system installation in just 24 hours. Chamberlin had two crews taking shifts within the 24 hours to ensure the safety of the workers. An additional challenge was access for this installation. It was not safe to walk on the rusted metal deck after the existing roof was removed, so the crew members had to stand on the building’s steel frame beams. All crew members were tied off 100% of the time while performing this scope.
On the Clinger Gym, Chamberlin installed a large standing seam barrel roof. Installation of this type of design can be very tedious. When installing a standing seam roof, it is important to have accurate and precise measurements for creating the metal panels. If the panels are too short, it can create costly issues such as having to refabricate entire panels. Chamberlin technicians took great care with their measurements and Chamberlin sheet metal experts fastidiously fabricated the panels to be installed. The material is costly, so minimal material waste was also a consideration. The roof system was successfully installed and watertight.
Prior to joint sealant installation, Chamberlin conducted an adhesion test mock-up to ensure the product and substrate worked together to create an optimal bond. The installation began with cleaning each joint, so the substrate was prepared for proper sealant adherence. The crews carefully installed the backer rod utilizing the proper width-to-depth ratio and finished by installing the sealant resulting in smooth, concave joints. Chamberlin conducted routine adhesion checks throughout the project. These newly sealed joints will help keep water out of the buildings and improve their aesthetic appeal.
Chamberlin’s attention to detail and expertise gained from decades of roofing and waterproofing experience helped them deliver high-quality installations for this school campus. The Texas School for the Deaf revitalization was completed on schedule with zero safety incidents.
The project stakeholders were very pleased with the final outcome of the project and the hard work and dedication Chamberlin put into the job. Subsequently, Chamberlin has been requested for two additional projects at Texas School for the Deaf.