April 19

Yerkes Observatory Exterior Restoration


Yerkes Future Foundation | Williams Bay, Wisconsin | 2018-ongoing

Services Provided

  • Roofing Investigation
  • Repair Documentation and Specifications
  • Construction oversight

Yerkes Observatory, dedicated in 1897 by the University of Chicago Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, sits overlooking Lake Geneva and features a richly ornate roman brick and terra cotta exterior cladding, accented by three telescopic domes. The main dome, 90 feet in diameter and 10 stories high, houses the world’s largest refracting telescope.

Upon receiving the building from the University of Chicago in 2020, the Yerkes Future Foundation began a campaign to preserve and restore the historic building and to ensure its telescopes were well protected. Pierce Engineering enlisted Building Envelope Professionals Group to complete an assessment of the existing roof and to provide recommendations for its restoration. BEPG staff reviewed existing construction drawings, completed a visual assessment of roofing, flashing, roofing transitions to masonry, and other roofing-related conditions, and provided details and specifications for roofing repairs, including a protective fluid-applied barrier designed to best waterproof the dome while preserving the dome’s visual character.


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