A lot has changed since 2009, when the Detroit City Council passed a resolution to demolish Michigan Central Station after years of neglect and vandalism. The resolution failed because of the structure’s historical designation, and the building has since underwent a 180 with Ford investment.
The company is planning to locate their electrical vehicle offices in the renovated building with a target of sometime in 2022-23; it will serve as the anchor for a total $740 million investment in Detroit’s Corktown area.
Contractor Cass Sheet Metal is working on the lobby’s roof and dozens of other contractors are renovating different parts of the building, including the gusta vina-tiled and roman bathhouse-inspired interior of the lobby, reconstructed with 3D scanning technology.
“It takes a village on a project of this size and prominence,” says Glenn Parvin, president of Cass Sheet Metal. “This is really the coup de grace of historical restorations here.”
In February 2021, Parvin and his team built a mockup for the copper roofing they’d install in March-April 2022. Having it displayed onsite generated excitement among the ownership team and the up to 400 contractors that come and go from the structure every day.
“We built the mockup in an effort to explore all the means and methods of installing batten-seem roofing and copper deck materials,” Parvin says. “It helped us work out all the bugs and we even constructed some of our own tools in the process.”
In 2021, Parvin’s team did the lower-profile work of underlayment, starting by stripping off the temporary roof. They’ve had to wait for stonemasons to finish replacing concrete deck and restoring large pediment stones before starting on the copper roof.
“We’re responsible for everything from the deck up. We had to remove shale to get down to the concrete, install a layer of insulation and layer three-quarter inch plywood. Then we hammered, drilled and fastened the plywood down to the concrete beneath it,” Parvin says, noting they used a full ice and water shield underlayment, Carlisle WIP 300HT.
“This isn't glorious, it's our crew dealing with the drudgery before the copper," he says, adding his team also has a contract to install a pre-fabricated metal roof around a skylight in the concourse section of the building.
On the contract for the lobby roof, the batten-seam, double-lock copper roof panels match-up to what contractors originally installed in the 1920s.
“It’s a must to stay true to the historical system; it’s similar to what you’d find in the SMACNA manual,” Parvin concludes, referring to the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association.