Harvard Law School Langdell Hall Roof Replacement

Cambridge, Massachusetts


General Contractor

Consigli Construction Co., Inc.
Milford, Massachusetts


Harvard Law School
Cambridge, Massachusetts


Baker | Wohl Architects
Boston, Massachusetts

Roofing Contractor

Titan Roofing
Springfield, Massachusetts

Copper Manufacturer

Hussey Copper
Leetsdale, Pennsylvania

Envelope Consultant

Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
Waltham, Massachusetts

Copper was used to preserve Harvard Law School’s Langdell Hall to its original appearance and retain the integrity of the building’s historical character. The roof replacement at Langdell Hall revitalized this iconic neoclassical building named for Harvard’s first Dean of the Law School, Christopher Columbus Langdell. Initially built in 1907, with the completion of the northern and western wings in 1929, Langdell Hall is home to the largest academic law library in the world, containing more than 2.3 million volumes and 300,000 rare books. Although a significant interior renovation was completed in 1997, including mechanical systems upgrade and accommodations for present and future technology needs, the building required extensive repairs to the roof and limestone parapets to address water damage and leakage that had occurred over the years due to cracked mortar and inadequate drainage. The roof restoration included replacement of multiple types of roofing systems, including built-up, metal standing seam and PVC membrane and significant parapet flashing. A total of 24,750 pounds of copper and .8 acres of PVC rubber were installed over the expansive roof. Copper was selected for its aesthetics, durability, ease of maintenance and longevity. 

Prior to installation of the finished roof, a mock-up installation of the copper roof was executed and reviewed by the design team. The mock-up included all details that would occur in the project. All sheet metal workers were required to complete an installation test. The envelope consultant, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, approved each worker prior to starting on the project. Both standing seam and flat seam copper panels were installed to replace existing copper panels and maintain historical integrity of the original design. New copper panels were 20-oz. per square foot thickness, in lengths varying from 19’5” to 9’10”. Standing seam height was 1½”, with 20 ¾”panel width (standing seam to standing seam) with exposed mill finish. Approximately 1,400 linear feet of zinc-coated copper, also known as “Freedom Gray” parapet coping cap, was installed at the perimeter. Harvard Law’s library remained open during the roof replacement. Before the copper panels could be installed, extensive masonry repairs were completed on the head houses. Located in the heart of Harvard Law School’s campus and adjacent to Cambridge’s historic district, the project was completed in four phases, complying with the City of Cambridge’s historic codes.

Architectural Category: Standing Seam Roofs and Walls

Photo Credit: Photo by Mathew Kuzmik

Photo Credit: Photo by Mathew Kuzmik

Photo Credit: Photo by Mathew Kuzmik

Photo Credit: Photo by Mathew Kuzmik

Photo Credit: Photo by Mathew Kuzmik

Photo Credit: Photo by Matheew Kuzmik

Photo Credit: Photo by Mathew Kuzmik

Photo Credit: Photo by Mathew Kuzmik