New Orleans

Key Players

Owner The Audubon Nature Institute

Lead Design Firm Manning Architects

Roofing Contractor Roofing Solutions

New Orleans’ Audubon Aquarium chose to replace its massive 65,000-sq-ft traditional roof with a more sustainable system after Hurricane Katrina damaged the roof in 2005. The aquarium installed a lightweight, insulating-concrete system, attractive for its higher R-value, energy efficiency and low carbon footprint.

By installing the $1.2-million sustainable system, the aquarium has virtually eliminated the need to dispose of roof materials during future roof rebuilds. The lightweight insulating concrete system also can withstand a minimum of 130 mph in uplift wind pressure, a heightened standard imposed following Katrina. The roof is now an integral part of the building because of its permanent, monolithic attachment to the substrate, which enables it to meet the wind requirement.

Early in the design, the team convinced FEMA of the long-term viability of installing the more costly lightweight system. Midway through the project, the team further persuaded FEMA to include an addendum to replace concrete capstones and skylights found to be potential sources of water intrusion into the roof system. Each time, the team had to prove the leaks were directly caused by Hurricane Katrina and not by maintenance issues.

Throughout construction, Roofing Solutions structured its schedule and workflow to accommodate the nearly 3,000 patrons who visit the aquarium daily, working from highly constricted access points at odd hours while maneuvering around countless skylights, chillers and other mechanical equipment scattered across the roof.