County of Marin - News Releases - Civic Center Roof Replacement

For Immediate Release
November 17, 2016

Historic Civic Center to Get New Roof

Board of Supervisors takes first step on $21,180,000 project

San Rafael, CA – After standing proudly for more than 50 years on its hill in San Rafael, the Marin County Civic Center needs a new roof.

A view of the patches on the Civic Center roof.A close-up view of the Civic Center roof reveals many patches.

Designed by the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright, the 470,168 square foot building is the largest completed public project of Wright’s career and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. On November 15, the Board of Supervisors approved a $991,000 design and management contract for the services of Wiss Janney Elstner Associates, Inc. (WJE), a nationally recognized firm for architectural projects of historical significance.

The full project will be completed in three phases over the next three years, carrying a total price tag of about $21.2 million, making it one of the largest construction projects on the Civic Center since it was originally built in the 1960s. The original Civic Center cost about $14.6 million to build – $3.6 million for the Administration Wing in 1962 and $11 million for the Hall of Justice in 1966. The County spent $18.1 million on a new jail in 1994. (Figures not adjusted for inflation).

For the Civic Center to continue to stand the test of time, its 220,000-square-foot roof will need to be replaced. The building is characterized by a concrete roof with distinctive blue coating and stylized ornamentation. After major roof repair projects in 1999 and 2000, numerous leak repairs have since been required and the iconic color has faded significantly.

The current roof, dating to the original construction five decades ago, has four layers of recoating and patchwork covering the original material. The membrane is now fracturing and peeling to the point that partial fixes will no longer suffice. The complete removal of the roof is most expensive part of this project but is crucial for fixing inherent flaws that have caused serious leaks over the years. In 2015, a section of the interior ceiling on the north end of the building collapsed into a hallway because of water pooling between the roofing layers.

“The completion of this critical project will provide a modern, well-constructed roof system that will protect and enhance this architectural treasure for years to come,” said Patrick Zuroske, Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) Capital Projects Division Manager.

In September 2015, WJE was engaged by the DPW to research constructability, structural durability, ease of maintenance, color stability, cost efficiency and historic compatibility. The architectural team at WJE includes specialized historical architects, who will ensure that the building’s history remains intact while bringing it up to date in regards to safety, quality and longevity.

“We have been extremely detailed and deliberate in our approach from the inception of this project and anticipate that construction will begin in 2017,” Zuroske said. “This is going to be a widespread and visible project that will encompass the entire expanse of the Civic Center. Just the removal of the existing roof alone will be a significant undertaking.”

The first phase of the construction project is scheduled to begin during summer 2017 on the shorter Administration Wing and the library dome on the building’s southern end. Summer 2018 should see the start of the second phase, focused on the longer Hall of Justice at the northern end. The third and final phase will take place in 2019 and address the skylight refurbishment. 


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