Mid-Pike Plaza Redevelopment, Rockville, MD

While most equipment screens are designed to conceal the view of rooftop equipment from the ground, that’s not always the case. When the architect and developer of Mid-Pike Plaza in Rockville, MD were transforming an old shopping mall into an upscale mixed use urban development with luxury condos and high-end shops, the problem was the view from adjacent higher buildings.

Equipment screen with aluminum louvers to block view from higher buildings

Aluminum louvers on tilted equipment screen wall.With the building being 70 feet tall and the relatively small HVAC equipment placed more than 10 feet back from the roof edge, a roof screen would normally not be needed. However, directly across a narrow street was a taller building with windows looking down on the ugly roof equipment. Working closely with the client, our sales engineering team identified the objectives and proposed a tilt-back screen with aluminum louvers for the facing. With the screen tilted back at 39° from vertical and an overall height of 7 feet, the view from adjacent building windows was effectively blocked. 

To be consistent with the upscale urban look and feel, the architect wanted to avoid standard corrugated or flat metal panels. RoofScreen’s L10 Angled Louver was just the right touch. Leaving the extruded aluminum louver with mill finish (unpainted) not only saved the client money, it provided the industrial chic aesthetic they desired. 

With equipment screens, making it fit with the building’s aesthetics is only part of the equation. The rest is what we sometimes jokingly call “a simple matter of engineering.” Of course, it’s anything but simple, and this one was no different. The main challenge with this project was that the roof was framed using wood trusses that were too narrow and didn’t have the capacity to resist concentrated point loads. Working directly with the client’s structural engineer, we learned that adding blocking under the decking would be cost prohibitive. Fortunately, we have a solution for that. 
We proposed adding blocking above the roof deck, spanning across multiple trusses to spread the load. Normally, adding blocking or sleepers on top of a roof deck is a bad idea. That’s because making the top of the sleeper permanently watertight is difficult, if not impossible. Traditionally, this would be done by adding sheet metal sleeper caps, which would be fine if nothing was attached to them. The problem happens when equipment, or in this case an equipment screen, is fastened to the top of the sheet metal cap. The only way to do it is drill a hole for the fastener and caulk it, which will only last a couple years at best. 

Higher building looking down on rooftop equipment screen wall

RoofScreen’s solution to this age-old problem is our patented DryCap System. The DryCap is an extruded aluminum sleeper cover with concealed cleats that hold it down to the sleeper, and t-slot channels on the top to allow equipment to be bolted without penetrating the watertight barrier at the top surface of the cap. Using the DryCap system on this project allowed the sleepers to be strategically placed per the requirements of the client’s structural engineer, while providing adequate flexibility for the proper placement of the RoofScreen system.

With the ingenuity of the RoofScreen team and the use of some of our innovative products, we successfully met all of the client’s requirements and overcame the engineering and technical challenges for a functional and aesthetically pleasing result. 

 

 

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