The University of Chicago
Crerar Library Roof and Skylight Repairs
Berglund replaced the library’s roof, which included repairing its skylights while protecting the 1.4 million books shelved below from debris and water. The library remained occupied and operational during repairs.

Project Overview

Completed in 1984, the John Crerar Library forms the Western wall of the University of Chicago’s science quadrangle. It's an essential part of academic life and research on campus. The university hired Berglund Construction to replace the building’s roof and restore its exterior walls while the library remained occupied and operational.

The roof repairs included replacing two skylights that provide natural light for the research underway below. The library boasts open shelving for 1.4 million books, and many of these books are shelved below the skylights. Additionally, the electrical systems for valuable accent lighting are housed within the skylights.

To protect these items, Berglund took several precautions to ensure that no water or construction debris would penetrate the openings created by the skylight removal. First, Berglund installed a scaffold system up to the skylight opening, which was covered in reinforced visqueen protected by plywood. Then, a small scaffold was built on top of the plywood and covered in a pitched tarp to provide an extra layer of protection from any leaks. Mesh and visqueen was installed below the scaffold system to further protect the items underneath. This engineered system did not allow any water to penetrate inside the building while Berglund replaced the skylights.

One of the library’s primary concerns was noise. In addition to completely removing and reinstalling the roof, Berglund’s scope required drilling and cutting into the roof above the occupied spaces to install fall protection anchors and replace roof drains. To ensure minimal disruption to the researchers below, Berglund worked with the library to develop and distribute a phasing plan that divided the roof repairs into three sections. With this information available, researchers could seek quiet study spots in areas where tradepeople were not working above.