Superior Products and Attention to Detail is What Truly Makes Ave Maria Special

Feb. 1, 2008

Ever since ground was broken on a brand new university on February 17, 2006, Ave Maria, Florida, has consistently garnered the lion's share of the local and national press coverage.  The culmination of its publicity blitz came in July 2007, when Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ) magazine ran a feature story on the university and the European-inspired community that is being developed around it.

In the GQ article, and most of the articles that have been published on Ave Maria, the focus has been on three primary themes or concepts.  Some feature the architecturally unique, 100-foot tall and 1,100-seat Oratory, or church, located at the point where the university meets the community.  Others note that Ave Maria is the first Catholic university to be founded in the United States in more than 40 years, while some tend to emphasize the fact that an entire city is being developed around a small theological college in rural Florida.  Virtually every article ever published about Ave Maria touches on one of these concepts.  Most address them all.

But there is more to the story of Ave Maria than Catholicism, a university and a full-scale rural development project.  There is something to be said for the attention to detail that has gone into the design and construction of this project that consists of a 1,000-acre college campus and a 4,000-acre master-planned community.  Nowhere is that attention to detail more evident than in the Town Center, where all of the rooftops were covered with the self-adhesive, Polystick TU Plus roofing underlayment.

Manufactured by Polyglass USA, Polystick TU Plus is designed specifically for use under tile roofing systems, such as the ones installed on the European-inspired Town Center, or La Piazza as it is officially recognized.  Polystick TU Plus utilizes Polyglass' patented ADESO® technology - a dual-compound formula applied in a factory-controlled setting that eliminates the need for torches or mops on the rooftop.

The Town Center buildings ground floor is home to retail outlets, offices, commercial and general businesses. The upper two floors are condominiums, all which have a view of the Oratory and are the symbolic transition between the university and the rest of the community.  They are responsible for pumping the economic lifeblood into the community, and their success at doing so may ultimately determine the fate of the entire Ave Maria project. 

The developers understood very early on that these buildings had to be of the highest quality and anything less would not suffice.  A poor-performing underlayment that allows even the slightest amount of water infiltration could be disastrous.

So, in order to create the La Piazza buildings in a way that looks and feels like an authentic European downtown center yet performs like Fort Knox, attention to detail was job number one.  Ave Maria officials hired three separate architectural firms to design the buildings, hoping to get diversity in design and collaboration on best practices and products.  One of the lucky firms was Humphrey Rosal, a local company located in nearby Naples.  According to Todd Lausterer, the firm's senior project architect, the goal was to create a design that evoked a sense of Mediterranean Europe with an American twist.

"We knew that our buildings had to feature a European style, but we were determined to not create anything with a static or stale design," stated Lausterer.  "We worked very hard to create beautiful, timeless buildings and one of the ways we were able to do that was by selecting and specifying all of the building materials that were used on the two buildings we designed, including the roofing materials."

The concrete tile rooftops of the Town Center buildings may very well be their most distinctive feature.  A common selection in Florida, the tiles combine beauty and durability.  However, high winds and the potential for damage is always a concern in Florida, so it was important that a quality waterproofing underlayment be installed, which, according to the project's roofing contractor, is where Polystick TU Plus entered the picture.

Crowther Roofing, the roofing contractor, was the first to recommended Polystick TU Plus.  "We threw it [Polystick TU Plus] out there for consideration because we firmly believe that it is the best tile roofing underlayment available," commented Roger Smith, vice president at Crowther Roofing.  "Polyglass' self-adhesive underlayments are one of the best waterproofing products we install because we have seen firsthand how well they perform."

After reviewing their options and considering a handful of underlayments for the project, Humphrey Rosal agreed that Polystick TU Plus was the best product for the job.  But performance wasn't the only reason for their decision.

"We were very impressed with the performance record of the Polyglass product, but the determining factor in our decision was its accessibility," said Lausterer.  "On a project of this size and magnitude, availability is a major concern.  Polyglass was one of only a few manufacturers that could deliver us the amount of material we needed, when we needed it, in order to complete the job on time."

When the time came to install the roofing products on the Town Center buildings, Crowther was able to dry-in the buildings quickly by applying the Polystick TU Plus over the exposed 5/8-inch plywood roof decks.

Crowther installed the underlayment by first rolling out the three-foot wide rolls of membrane horizontally across the roof.  Next they peeled off the poly film backing and adhered it directly to the plywood, overlapping each subsequent membrane per Polyglass' requirements.  This ensured that any water that penetrated the tiles would flow off of the roof and not get under the Polystick TU Plus.

A unique benefit of Polystick TU Plus, and all of Polyglass' self-adhesive underlayments, is the company's innovative SealLap® lapping system. SealLap is a patented feature that enhances sealing at the side seams making tight seals at the seams and faster end laps.

Another reason Crowther prefers Polystick TU Plus over competing tile underlayment products is because of its non-slippery, top surface.  Polystick TU Plus is available with a skid-resistant top surface that makes working on extremely steep-sloped roofs safer and easier.  The skid-resistant surface is just one of many Multiple Surfacing Solutions (MSS) offered on Polyglass' SA Self-Adhesive underlayments.

An integral part of the ADESO technology, Polyglass' MSS are the result of a flexible manufacturing process that facilitates the application of a variety of customized surfaces. The available surf aces range from skid and UV resistant to energy efficient and non-abrasive, yet all of them provide excellent aesthetics and long-term exposure capabilities.

"At one point, this project was the largest construction project in the entire United States, so you know there were a lot of various contractors doing a lot of different things," said Smith.  "There were bound to be times when we had the underlayment laid down but had to wait a few weeks, or even months, before we could install the finished roofing tile.  Polystick TU Plus can be exposed to the elements for up to 120 days, giving everyone the peace of mind in knowing that the building is covered and weatherproofed."

When the time finally came to install the finished roofing tiles, Crowther mechanically fastened each one directly to the roof deck using two approved fasteners per tile. 

Like all of Polyglass' self-adhesive underlayments, Polystick TU Plus features a self-healing property that allows it to form around the protruding fasteners without compromising the waterproofing integrity of the roof system.

By the time the Town Center roofing project was complete, Crowther installed more than 100,000 square feet of Polystick TU Plus on 70 different roof levels.  Unfortunately, most people aren't talking about the roofing.  They're talking about Ave Maria University, the future home to 6,000 graduate and undergraduate students from 42 different countries.

Seen by many as the ultimate ideological and construction experiment, Ave Maria will continue to reap its share of the world's publicity.  Whether the final article to be published on this unique adventure is positive or negative has yet to be determined, but one thing is for certain:  without the success of the Town Center buildings and their premium Polyglass roofing underlayment, Ave Maria would not stand a fighting chance.

Author Bio:  Tony Matter is a freelance writer for the construction industry.

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