Masonry Technology Incorporated
Of Parapets and Peril
Most of us probably give little, if any, thought about buildings with parapet walls even though they proliferate the landscape. Drive through a modern suburban shopping area and you’ll evidence structure after structure crowned with a parapet. From big box stores to fast food shops, buildings featuring parapet walls are literally everywhere.
One of the most famous architectural examples involving parapet walls is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater house in Pennsylvania. Probably most of us are aware of it; however, are you aware of the many structural crisis experienced at Fallingwater? The main cantilevers that allow the house to stretch out over the stream nearly collapsed (and would have had then been built according to Wright’s original specifications). In addition to reworking the cantilevers and adding cables for support, leaking roofs, weak parapet walls, substandard steel windows, and many other issues have needed repair or replacement totaling more than $11 million dollars in upgrades.
Parapet walls can add a unique beauty to a structure, just as they do at Fallingwater and many other locations. Parapet walls offer many advantages to architects, contractors and building owners.
- They can be easily adapted to a wide array of desirable facades
- They are excellent for hiding mechanical equipment that needs to be placed on a roof
- They help prevent roof edge blow off by diverting winds and air currents upward
- They can be a stable termination point for roof edges and flashings
However, their use demands careful study and implementation. One of the main issues with parapet walls is the need for moisture management.
Download MTI’s complete article http://www.mtidry.com/news/ParapetWallArticle.pdf.