County of Marin - News Releases - Civic Center Roof Update

For Immediate Release
July 23, 2019

Civic Center Hall of Justice Roof Gets the Blues

Two-year project to rehabilitate roof aims to address skylight replacement next

San Rafael, CA – The two-year construction project to rehabilitate the historic Marin County Civic Center roof is nearly three-quarters complete as crews have begun applying the iconic “Marin Blue” color on the Hall of Justice (HOJ) wing. Weather permitting, the intensive project is expected to be completed by early spring 2020.

Birds eye view of the Marin County Civic Center, depicting roof replacement work in progress on the Hall of Justice wing of the building. Once complete, the new roof will be one of the largest construction projects on the Civic Center since it was built in the 1960s.
The rehabilitation work on the southern wing and library dome was completed in March, now proudly sporting the finished Marin Blue color. Since then, the project has been focused on removing the old roofing material from the HOJ wing, which is the northern half of the building. The removal process is intensive, requiring a variety of methods ranging from pressure washing to hammer and chisel. The contractor is approximately 70 percent complete with the removal of the old material.

An eight-foot high expanse of white fabric along the northern wing is in place as a protective enclosure for public safety. It is designed to stop debris, work dust and other particulate materials from leaving the construction area.

Application of the new polyurethane membrane roofing material is now underway on the sections of the HOJ roof that have been cleared. The application of the final blue coat has begun on the northern wing and is approximately 30 percent completed. Concurrently, the gold metal ornamentation and detailing work will be conducted along the entirety of HOJ wing.

Once the Department of Public Works has completed the roof replacement project, work will tentatively begin on refurbishing the building’s skylights. The design process is underway and various implementation options are being considered. The intention is to construct a skylight system that matches the original design plans by Frank Lloyd Wright, the legendary architect who crafted the historic building, while taking precautions against impacts from the elements, such as leaking and warping. The skylights project will be handled separately from the main roof work and is expected to begin construction in summer 2020.

The new roofing 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 the iconic building. Through extensive testing, the membrane has shown significant color stability and should maintain the historic building’s look for years to come.

The 470,168-square-foot Civic Center is the largest completed public project that Frank Lloyd Wright designed and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Civic Center is characterized by a concrete roof with distinctive blue coating and stylized ornamentation. Dating to the original construction more than 55 years ago, the roof has had four layers of recoating and patchwork over the decades. Despite several repair projects, the old membrane was beginning to fracture and peel, resulting in leaks and color fading.

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.

Once complete, 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.

In September 2017, the Marin County Board of Supervisors awarded a $17,842,799 contract to Arntz Builders, Inc., a Novato-based company, to direct the project. Rainbow Waterproofing and Restoration Company, which specializes in historically significant landmarks, is handling the removal of the old roof and the construction of the new one.

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


Dorren Hill
Capital Projects Division Manager
Public Works

3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6526
Email: Dorren Hill
DPW Website