Roof repair to silence ribbets
Workers conduct a final walk-through of the Meson Lab roof repairs earlier this week.
An unlikely frog habitat vanishes from Fermilab this week with the final touches to the Meson Lab roof repairs.
Leaks - lots of leaks - have plagued the building's twelve blue and orange concave arches since the laboratory's early days. The Meson Lab building was created as a striking architectural and aesthetic element of the Fermilab landscape, but its nearly 44,000 rivet holes provided 44,000 possible places for water to find a way inside.
"This roof is notorious. It has challenged every director the lab has had," said Erik Ramberg, head of the Meson test facility. "We'll see if this one triumphs."
Puddled water often meant scientists had to build indoor roofs four layers thick over machinery, shut down parts of experiments or move equipment.
It made for an amphibian heaven.
Ramberg said that during the five years he worked in the lab, he regularly heard croaking. "I saw a snake in there yesterday," he said. "It has to be eating something."
Ramberg said he'll miss the building's quirks, such as the day after a snowfall when it rains inside the building. But he hopes that the repairs stick for both safety and financial reasons.
Workers patched holes in the steel, primed the roof and filled in cavities. They then applied an elastomeric coating that hardened in the sunlight to form a flexible sheet and restored the building's original blue and orange colors.
FESS division head Randy Ortgiesen said that Fermilab's Elaine McClusky, Mike Andrews and Tom Prosapio worked tirelessly to see the roof fixed.
Fixing the building was key because it will soon become home to R&D projects for the proposed ILC, and will be a test facility for superconducting radiofrequency cavities.
"This is a big milestone for us, because that facility will become a showcase for the laboratory over the next few years," Ortgiesen said. "We'll have dignitaries coming from all over to tour it."