Timing is everything. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo discovered just how true this is when it came time to re-roof the Reliant Arena, one of the older buildings in the Reliant Park complex. The Houston Rodeo is hailed as the largest livestock exhibit and rodeo event in the world, and for three weeks every February and March, it completely consumes every inch of Reliant Park– including the Arena.


In the winter of 2006, just before Rodeo season, Manhattan Construction Company and Raba-Kistner Consultants, Inc. turned to Chamberlin when Reliant Park needed to replace the leaking roof system atop Reliant Arena. Since the Rodeo, which built the original facility in the mid 1970s and still uses it to house and show livestock and other exhibits, was just around the corner, Chamberlin quickly circled the wagons to develop and recommend a plan to temporarily repair the roof for a watertight performance during the Rodeo and then replace the deteriorated roof system upon its completion.


“Chamberlin was ultimately awarded the work for two reasons,” said Bob Dulovics, Senior Roof Consultant with Raba-Kistner Consultants, Inc. “One, they were the low bidder. And two, they put together a convincing plan that indicated they could get the 360,000 sq. ft. building watertight before the 2006 Houston Rodeo, maintain it during the Rodeo, and begin the process of permanent roof replacement once the Rodeo was over.”


Prior to the start of the 2006 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Chamberlin cleaned and sealed 117,000 sq. ft. of coated EPDM membrane to keep it watertight throughout the event. In addition, the Chamberlin team mechanically attached insulation and a permanent TPO membrane over a 105,000 sq. ft. area in a very small window of time. Of course, all materials and equipment were demobilized from the property before the Rodeo began.


“Chamberlin had to bring an army out there and basically move mountains,” said Dulovics. “And they did it in very short order. In just two weeks, the arena was watertight and ready for the Rodeo.”


After the Rodeo, Chamberlin set out to complete the re-roofing process by bringing practical ideas to the table. One such idea was suggesting the owner consider a re-cover on a 150,000 sq. ft. portion of the roof. This idea made a lot of sense based on the owner’s ultimate plan for this portion of the building. Better yet, it resulted in cost savings of a half million dollars.


Work was placed on hold again in April, but this time it was for the return of the 2006 Houston Grand Prix. After the race, the remaining areas that had been temporarily sealed prior to the Rodeo were removed and replaced with a fully adhered Firestone TPO single-ply system. Removal and replacement was exceptionally difficult and brought with it many challenges for Chamberlin to overcome.


The roof area to be removed was larger than the size of two football fields, and it was covered with three layers of roofing systems and lightweight insulating concrete atop a structural concrete deck. To remove the debris from the massive roof, Chamberlin considered utilizing machine skid loaders to increase productivity. However, the engineer’s review of the deck condition found the structural concrete to be degraded as a result of the mechanical attachment of the previous roof systems. This eliminated the possibility of using any heavy equipment for demolition work. To overcome this schedule delay, Chamberlin put together a creative solution to mobilize small four-wheelers with lightweight carts to move the huge amounts of debris across the vast roof areas. A path for the carts was laid directly above structural columns, as were garbage chutes that led to the dumpsters below.

Intense heat during the summer months created more challenges. Soaring temperatures, upwards of 140 degrees on the roof, made it unbearable and unsafe for the Chamberlin crew. Making matters worse, the roof areas were surrounded by metal paneled walls that rose about 30 feet on three sides preventing airflow, thus creating an oven effect. To overcome the extreme heat, Chamberlin crews began working split shifts, starting in the early morning before sunrise, breaking during the heat of the day, and returning in the evenings.

Upon completion, and after many trials and tribulations, the roofing manufacturer’s final inspection found only two very minor items requiring address, which were corrected by the time the inspection was complete. The $1.4 million roof installation met the manufacturer’s strict standards of quality and their best warranty was issued.

“I am very proud of our field operations team,” said Bob Edwards, Chamberlin Senior Project Manager. “Their can-do attitude and creative problem solving is what successfully led them through this extremely challenging project.”