Spray foam plays a vital role in the transformation of a school into a modernized residential condominium in Santa Fe’s art district
By Juan Sagarbarría
If you’re partial to letting your artistic flag fly when in Santa, Fe, New Mexico, then your visit would be utterly incomplete without a jaunt down world-famous Canyon Road. Tucked away into the foothills of Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Canyon Road is a bohemian, coat-of-many-colors half-mile trail in the heart of the Historic District of Santa Fe. With 100 art galleries that one can generally peruse, a stroll down picturesque Canyon Road will place you amidst the collected works of New Mexico’s finest artists and sculptors. Canyon Road is also known for its top-shelf fine dining options in shady green patio settings and boutiques featuring products native to the region. It’s no surprise that with such offerings, Canyon Road hosts special annual events such as the Canyon Road Spring Art Festival or the ARTFeast Edible Art Tour that involve art, film, music, food, or a fusion of all.
Yet, up until recently, there was one building that seemed to stick out from the others along the length of the Canyon Road trail. Located at the end of the road, an old school building had been left closed and unattended – for years. John Gaw Meem, a decorated architect whose style is credited as definitive to Southtwestern architecture, designed the building itself in the 1920s. Many considered that, although the building retained unique aesthetic properties, it beckoned revitalization – that was a call that developer Claire Marist heard. Marist acquired the building from the Santa Fe public school system because she saw the potential of turning the old school building into a modernized residential condominium that would maintain the aesthetics that Meem instilled – the same building aesthetics that have come to define Santa Fe.
Granted, modernizing a near-century-old building without making drastic changes proved to be a challenge to Marist. Therefore, she enlisted architect Eric Enfield of Santa Fe’s Architectural Alliance and award-winning builder Will Prull of Prull Customer Builders. Together, they devised a plan to conserve Meem’s design and, at the same time, implement modernized amenities to the 11,000 square-foot main building, converting it into three separate condos. The plan, in part, including the application of a spray polyurethane foam roofing system, as well as spray foam insulation to the exterior walls of the building. In addition to the main building installs, the project also entailed installing SPF roofing systems to three newly constructed 2,500 square-foot casitas, which are small adobe units that Marist, Enfield, and Prull aggregated to the project.
Having worked with Matt Segura and Aaron Lewis of Southwest Spray Foam (SWSF) in the past, Prull suggested bringing their team in for this particular portion of the project.
The project details included the usage of NCFI Polyurethanes SPF systems. For the insulation of the exterior walls, NCFI’s InsulStar® was specified. InsulStar is
a closed-cell polyurethane foam insulation that, when installed, expands to fill cavities and crevices, forming a barrier that aids in blocking air infiltration, noise pollution, dust, and allergens. InsulStar is formulated with renewable agricultural resources and uses a state-of-the-art, sustainable blowing agent with zero ozone depletion potential.
The roofing system specified was NCFI’s EnduraRock System, which provided a seamless, insulating and waterproofing system for low-slope roof applications. The system consists of EnduraTech 10-011 2.8-lb. closed-cell spray-applied polyurethane foam providing the insulation and waterproofing, followed by an application EnduraTech HT acrylic coating to the vertical surfaces, details, exposed edges, and other areas where gravel may not be stable, and finished with a ¾- to one-inch layer of gravel for ultra-violet protection over the foam.
“SPF roofing has become a very popular roof system in the Northern New Mexico area due to the architecture that John Gaw Meem resurrected in the early 1900s,” says SWSF’s Matt Segura. “The flat roof, adobe-style home has become the trademark of Santa Fe architecture and it is the most desired design of most of the general contractors in the area. In this case, the challenge was to provide a new energy code to an old ‘semi’ mass wall constructed with ‘pen’ tile and adobe. An SPF insulation and roofing system would provide the maximum R-Value per inch that was needed.”
According to Segura, the spray foam insulation increased the efficiency of the building and maximized the space of the building because of the low depth of foam that was installed to the exterior walls (three inches). He adds that the spray foam roofing system install provides a non-vented roof assembly and maximizes the height of the interior ceiling by not needing to install insulation to it.
By the time the SWSF crew arrived at the site on Canyon Road, the original BUR roof system on the main building had been removed and disposed of by a demolition team and the walls had been stripped down to the studs; the new construction only had its frame built and was ready for SPF application.
SWSF used a five-man crew for the project. The spray equipment they manned consisted of a Graco Reactor H-40 proportioner, a Graco GMAX 3400 gas-mechanical airless sprayer, Graco GX-7 plural-component spray guns, and 300 feet of hose. For the duration of the application, all crewmembers near the spray line donned Bullard fresh-air respirators, Tyvek suits, gloves, and boots. The SPF applicators alternated application shifts and used two-way radios to communicate throughout the installs.
The SPF roofing system application to the main building and the casitas was completed first, and that entailed masking and protecting adjacent properties on Canyon Road. SWSF communicated with the neighboring property owners so that the crew could mask off their properties prior to the outdoor SPF system installations. They utilized four-and-six-mil plastic sheeting to cover the nearby properties, and car covers for nearby vehicles that could be affected by overspray damage. Further, while spraying, the crew used windscreens to mitigate overspray.
“I’d say our biggest concern during this project was masking,” says Segura. “You can’t predict the weather, for one, and when
you’re in a congested area like this one it can get difficult, which is why communication was key.”
One of these nearby properties was the Cristo Rey Church – another Meem building, which is a tourist attraction where mass services are also regularly held. When considering masking the church, the SWSF crew figured the services would be limited to Sundays, and since the crew did not work on Sunday, it wouldn’t be an issue. They realized during the first day of foam application that the church also held funeral services.
“During the services, the crew decided to stop work and take advantage of the cool shade of the surrounding trees,” says Segura. “This allowed the crew to take a break from the heat and re-hydrate.”
For the roof installations, SWSF constructed scaffolding where needed for easier roof access and fall protection. To mitigate risk, they made sure sprayers applying foam to the perimeter of the roof deck were always backed by a hose man to advise the sprayer if he was getting too close to the edge. The crew installed NCFI foam directly to the plywood roof deck (main building) and new OSB substrate deck (casitas), respectively. The depth of foam application varied from three to eight inches throughout the main building and the casitas. Then, the crew applied 40 DFT mils of Santa Fe Tan-colored EnduraTech acrylic coating to the edges, the parapet walls, and the roof penetrations. Immediately after, they brought the gravel aggregate containers onto the roof with the use of a crane with a large hopper. Then, the SWSF crew broadcast the 3/4-inch crushed gravel layer by hand on top of the foam to complete the installation of the EnduraRock roof system to the main building and casitas. Site superintendent CJ Martin praised the SPF system, recognizing that the EnduraRock system installation was completed and dried in a fraction of the time that a tapered foam system requires.
“It is always critical to get the roof dried in,” says Martin. “A dry site is a safe job site.”
Then, the crew went inside the main building to complete the insulation portion of the job. All the windows of the main building had been removed so the area was well ventilated. Notwithstanding, the SWSF crew placed large fans around the spray areas to exhaust the fumes created by the SPF on the interior. SWSF also placed “Confined Space” signage on the outside of the building in compliance of OSHA regulations. Then, the crew installed 3.5 inches of closed-cell foam to 3.5-inch wall cavities and scarified the foam afterwards to ensure that the foam was flush with the studs and to maximize every square inch of the property. The wall insulation was sprayed from the underside of the roof deck all the way down to the footings located below the floor.
The entire project equated to the installation of just over 30 sets of foam. Subsequently, plumbing and electrical wiring coupled with high-end interior finishings were added as the condos began to take shape. The condos are slated for total completion and ready to be lived in during this spring, and they will showcase cutting-edge, high-performance amenities that deliver energy efficiency – which was facilitated by the SPF.
For more information, please visit www.southwestsprayfoam.com and www.ncfi.com.•