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Metal roof adds performance, farmhouse appeal to an urban retreat

Architect Nate Kipnis, FAIA, and his Evanston, Ill.-based firm, Kipnis Architecture + Planning, has earned a national reputation for sustainable design. Underscoring its commitment to energy-efficient performance, the firm was among the first to join the American Institute of Architects’ 2030 Commitment, a pledge to work toward designing only net-zero energy projects by 2030. Kipnis currently is national co-chair of the AIA’s 2030 Commitment Working Group. A recently completed Chicago residence illustrates the creativity that goes into such efforts, and a Snap-Clad metal roof from Petersen plays a prominent role in the project’s environmental – and aesthetic – success.

Kipnis has done his fair share of residential work in neighboring Chicago’s tightly spaced residential lots, but this project in the city’s Ravenswood neighborhood provided something unique: space, and plenty of it. The clients’ property spanned five of the city’s standard 100-ft.-by-125-ft. lots. More impressively it was at the end of a dead-end street, with a back yard that abutted the recently revitalized Chicago River, with views across the river to a 57-acre city park. In other words, with the right plan, Kipnis’s clients could end up with an urban home with all the appeal of a rural escape.

To start, the existing suburban-style home on the property was deconstructed for architectural salvage, and Kipnis began sketching an el-shaped plan that focused views toward the river and the park beyond. His clients’ collection of farmhouse images inspired the resulting barn-like plan and exterior, complete with a silo-like turret and, of course, a standing-seam metal roof. Specifically, 8,500 sq. ft. of PAC-CLAD’s Snap-Clad 24-gauge panels in a Weathered Zinc Cool Color finish.

“The standing seams are just a nice element,” Kipnis said, also noting the advantages of the material for rooftop solar – a standard element in many of his residential efforts. “It’s so easy to attach solar panels to it – it’s easy to clip on and it’s raised up off the roof, so you get some air underneath.”

Custom Installations Inc., based in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, Ill., was the installation contractor on the job, and owner Sock Woodruff said this job posed some challenges, both in its scope and detail.

“We do a lot of standing seam, but the majority is accent standing seam – this project was pretty time-consuming,” Woodruff said. The turret, in particular, called on the expertise Custom Installations’ crew has developed over several decades. As aerial photos show, that architectural element is actually ovoid, not circular, and it comes to a point where it intersects the home’s two wings.

“It’s time-consuming to do that work, because it’s all custom made,” he said. “I think it takes the guys five times as long as doing typical hip-and-gable roofs.”

Kipnis, who recognized the challenge his unique roof plan created, definitely was impressed with the artistry in the finished product. “I don’t know how the roofers did it,” he said. “That’s a little bit of magic on their part.”

Both architect and installer are frequent specifiers of Petersen’s PAC-CLAD products, and appreciate the line’s quality, breadth of options and available customer support.

“We’ve had a very good working relationship with the company,” Kipnis said. “We like the color selections and the Cool Roof technology on the finish – we always want the roof to be very cool, period.” Woodruff is equally complimentary.

“We’ve worked with PAC-CLAD for a number of years – they’ve got great customer service and their staff is really experienced,” he said. “They’re really helpful with support behind the products they manufacture – and their color selection stands out.”

Shardon Builders of Mount Prospect, Ill., was the general contractor on the project.


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