Why Can’t I Walk Around the Back of Parrish?

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Many of us have noticed and complained about the inconveniently blocked walkways behind Parrish. The walkways are blocked because of the construction on Parrish’s roof, but what is the construction for?

According to Ralph Thayer, Director of Maintenance, it’s not exactly construction—it’s replacement. Good quality fiber-reinforced asphalt shingles have lives of about twenty years, and in the past few, the wind has been lifting more than a few of these shingles off Parrish’s roof.

“That’s generally an indicator that the asphalt in the shingle has dried to the point where it becomes brittle, rather than pliable. When a shingle reaches that stage, replacement is the only option,” says Thayer. “The roof pre-dates me, and I’ve been here 18 years…”

For this project, the maintenance department is replacing the old asphalt shingles with thicker dimensional shingles for their more textured look, longer life, and adaptability to the scale of the building.

Right now, they are only replacing the shingles on the North Wing (the lower roof, now complete, and the upper roof adjacent to the WSRN offices). They intend to eventually replace the entire roof, including the domes, which are natural slate tile, and sheet metal details.

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