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Hard Hat Tour: Barrel Vaulted Roof

Barrel Vaulted RoofRJ: Is the big dome up there welded together?

FB: Yes. It came in sections. Each arch is in four sections. We would put the two ends on, and then the two middle sections were put together and hoisted in. We call these dinosaur bones, because that's what they looked like when we were putting them together. There are 36 of them all the way down.

RJ: Who decides how they're going to build the roof after the architect designs it?

FB: The architect creates the grandiose idea, then hires a structural engineer. The engineer figures out how to make it happen, and then a glass company was hired to build the pieces. But because this dome is so unique and so huge, another engineering company was hired to double check the whole plan to make sure it was sound. Total tonnage here is 600 tons! That’s a lot of weight! They wanted to make double sure it would hold!

RJ: How many panels are there in the roof?

FB: 5,808 individual windows. There are four windows in a section.

RJ: Do you have to replace a whole row of windows if one of them breaks?

FB: No, you can just replace the broken one.

RJ: How will they clean the glass that is way up top?

FB: Cleaning the outside will be pretty easy. They'll use a cart like the one used to install the glass to ride on the outside of the dome and clean it. For the inside, it will be a little more challenging. They will use lifts and cranes to reach the highest parts.