County of Marin - News Releases - Civic Center Roof

For Immediate Release
December 29, 2017

Scaffolding to be Installed Across Civic Center Roof

Replacement project of the iconic roof moves to next stage in January

San Rafael, CA – It will soon be visually evident that the project on Marin County Civic Center’s iconic roof is officially underway. Starting the first week of January 2018, the entire southern half of the 55-year-old building will have scaffolding installed from ground to roof.

The Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) anticipates that the installation process will take two months to complete. The construction work on the roof for the Administration Wing and the Marin County Free Library branch dome is expected to begin sometime in March 2018.

On September 26, 2017, the Marin County Board of Supervisors awarded a $17,842,799 contract to Arntz Builders, Inc., a Novato-based company, to handle the project. The Safway Group, nationwide scaffolding experts, will install the intricate structure and direct all appropriate safety measures. The scaffolding will allow construction workers to efficiently access areas of the roof and maneuver equipment in a safe and timely manner. 

Beyond having an aesthetic impact on the Civic Center, the scaffolding and related equipment will take up two parking spaces near the building’s south arch and another two parking spots near the middle arch. The library might have to change the location of its drop-off box under the south arch. However, all entry areas will remain fully accessible during the installation process.

The roofing replacement for the Administration Wing and the library dome is expected to be completed in late fall 2018, at which point work will commence on the Hall of Justice. Scaffolding is expected to be installed on the Hall of Justice in the first quarter of 2019. After the roofing project is complete, DPW intends to refurbish the Civic Center’s hallway skylights as a separate project.

The new roof will be one of the largest construction projects on the Civic Center since it was built in the 1960s. Not accounting for inflation, the Civic Center’s Administration Wing and Hall of Justice originally cost approximately $14.6 million to construct. The last time it was necessary to cover the Civic Center with scaffolding was for roof repairs in 1999. For that project, the Administration Wing, the library dome and the Hall of Justice were all worked on simultaneously.

Designed by the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright, the 470,168 square foot building is the largest completed public project of the architect’s career and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The building is characterized by a concrete roof with distinctive blue coating and stylized ornamentation. Dating to the original construction in the early 1960s, the roof now has four layers of recoating and patchwork. Despite several roof repair projects over the years, the membrane is fracturing and peeling, resulting in leaks and substantial fading of the iconic color.

In 2015, DPW sought the expertise of independent architectural specialists at Wiss Janney Elstner Associates, Inc., to assess the roof. The company determined that repairs were no longer a solution and the 220,000-square-foot roof needed to be replaced to preserve the historic building.

Installing the new roof will require removal of all the old material and application of a new polyurethane membrane. The new system will be durable, resistant to fire and high winds, easy to maintain and includes a comprehensive 20-year warranty. The membrane material is expected to increase the safety and longevity of Wright’s iconic creation. Through extensive testing, the membrane has shown significant color stability and should maintain the historic building’s look for decades to come.

The project is being funded by the County’s Capital Improvements Fund. The County’s Department of Finance raised the necessary money by refinancing Certificates of Participation, which are essentially bonds for municipal and government agencies, in 2015 when market conditions were favorable. 


Patrick Zuroske
Facilities Planning and Development Manager
Department of Public Works

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 304
San Rafael, CA 94913
(415) 473-2298
CRS Dial 711
Email: Patrick Zuroske
DPW Website