Historic Roundhouse at DuSable Museum Gets New Polymer Roof

KANSAS CITY, KAN. – After a proud history that includes serving as a horse stable during the 1893 World’s Fair, the Roundhouse at DuSable Museum in Chicago has now been restored. Originally built in the early 19th century, the structure’s round shape is made of Joliet limestone and is now topped by a DaVinci Roofscapes® polymer tile roof.


A comprehensive exterior renovation started on the historic building in 2009 and will be complete in April of 2011. Part of the first African American museum campus in the United States, the 66,000-square foot Roundhouse and the adjoining buildings will be home to a library, caf?, galleries, technology and language lab, museum store and educational spaces.

“This structure was only used for storage during the past 50 years,” says Sarah Delezen, senior project manager for the Alter Group. “We realized at the start of the project that the first priority was to support the historic restoration of the building. There were literally old limestone walls in danger of falling in on themselves and the old asphalt roof had rotted away in places over time.

“The DaVinci multi-width slate roofing tiles look amazing on the Roundhouse. The structure’s original roof was made of slate, so we were pleased that these polymer tiles have the texture and subtle variations of color that make them appear historically accurate. The Castle Gray blend of colors in the roof perfectly offsets the copper gutters on this structure.”

Bill Latoza, LEED AP and founding principal with Bauer Latoza Studio in Chicago specified the DaVinci products for the Roundhouse roof. “For me, the real selling point was the varied color selection of the DaVinci blends because it didn’t make the roof look monochromatic,” says Latoza. “Combined with the larger profile that allows for a strong shadow line, these synthetic tiles are ideal for historic preservation projects.

“Another reason we sought out DaVinci is because they have green-friendly building products that complement the historical integrity of the Roundhouse. At the same time, these tiles are easy-to-maintain and offer long-term benefits for the future of the structure. We’re pleased with these tiles and I’ll be specifying them again in the future for other historic preservation projects.”

The restoration team involved in the Roundhouse renovation hopes to gain LEED gold certification for the project. The building is considered as one of the main contributing features to the recognition of Washington Park when it was designated in 2004 on the National Register of Historic Places.

Installation of the Roundhouse Roof

“The shape of the structure made this a challenging installation project, but without a doubt the DaVinci roof will serve the building for decades to come,” says Mark T. Clark Sr., chairman of the board of Tolberts Roofing, an Afrrican-American owned corporation. “The multi-width slate product we installed is warranted for 50 years and can easily withstand the incredibly tough, diverse weather conditions we get in the Chicago area.”

Clark believes polymer roofs are ideal for renovation projects. “The successful completion of the Roundhouse project puts our company in the limelight for other historic renovation projects nationwide,” says Clark. “We’ll definitely be recommending the DaVinci products in the future.

“Our installation team was very comfortable installing the tiles and the finished look is outstanding. I’ve been recommending this product to everyone I speak with because I believe it has long-term benefits for both residential and commercial projects.”

The restored Roundhouse doubles the available space for DuSable Museum, which is dedicated to the collection, preservation, interpretation and dissemination of the history and culture of Africans and Americans of African descent. For more information on the museum, including its exhibits, performances and facilities, visit www.dusablemuseum.org.

DaVinci, the color leader in the polymer roofing industry, offers 28 tile color blends, including the Castle Gray used on the Roundhouse project. The company has 49 standard roofing colors and custom colors are also available. A DaVinci Color Design Program is available with a free on-line Color Design tool located at www.davinciroofscapes.com.

For more information on Tolberts Roofing, visit www.tolberts-roofing.com. For additional details on historical projects coordinated by Bauer Latoza Studio, visit www.BauerLatozaStudio.com. And, for more information on projects developed by Alter Group, visit www.AlterGroup.com.

DaVinci Roofscapes has manufactured award-winning polymer slate and shake roofing since 1999. The synthetic roofing tiles are virtually maintenance free and far more cost effective than the natural product. DaVinci leads the industry in tile thickness, the tile width variety and the greatest selection of subtle earth-toned colors. Company products have a 50-year warranty and are 100 percent recyclable. DaVinci proudly makes its products in America and is a member of the National Association of Home Builders, the Cool Roof Rating Council and the U.S. Green Building Council, and a sponsor of Homes for Our Troops. For additional information call 1-800-328-4624 or visit our website.