Metal Architecture Home

Artistic Library Expansion

Snow guards create more available space for solar on hyperbolic style roofs

Ace Clamp Case Study Aug18

When Yankee Construction, Mountainville, N.Y., was approached by architect Robert Gabalski of Lothrop Associates LLC, White Plains, N.Y., for an upcoming building addition project, they were quite surprised at the incredible challenge of the endeavor they faced.

Lothrop Associates envisioned a sweeping, nontraditional, single planar roof where standing seams are laid out in a pattern where the pitch of the seam is not perpendicular to the roof edge. The new expansion was part of the children's room addition for the Hendrick Hudson Free Library in Montrose, N.Y., and was designed to reflect and inspire the artistic spirit of the community.

The library's new roof meets up with a previously built fascia, which presented some challenges as contractors considered solutions for dealing with the differences in elevation between the existing roof and the unique addition. After a very extensive planning period and more than a few smart solutions, the result is a perfect blend of the old and the new that is just spectacular to behold.

The library addition features a walkway around the perimeter of the building. For safety reasons, the original specification called for snow guards, but without exact specs on the type or brand that would best match the angles of the new roof. Explains Stephen Smith, project manager at Yankee Construction, “We just said, okay ... standing seam roof ... snow guards ... no big deal. Then we started looking at the drawings and said: “this isn't going to work.”

One of the most substantial problems Yankee Construction encountered, besides the angles, was that the Hendrick Hudson Free Library's requirements called for a significant amount of the roof's usable square footage to be allocated towards the installation of photovoltaic panels. A solution would need to be found to help maximize on available rooftop space, while also allowing the snow guards to maintain their load correctly along the structural wall, which in this case was far from a right angle.

Traditional snow guards often present the problem of forcing installers to adhere to angles that are way out of sync with the architect's vision. "The issue was with the angles of the seams on the roof and the roof lines,” explains Smith. “There was no way to make a straight snow guard work. The Hendrick Hudson Free Library's new metal roof has a 42-inch spread between these brackets and an angle that is 165 degrees open. It was immediately clear that there didn't exist a standard snow guard system that could maintain the angles of the new addition, while also leaving enough room for the number of specified solar panels.”

Searching for a solution, Yankee Construction decided to present its dilemma to Plainville, Conn.-based snow guard manufacturer AceClamp. Gary Dinnebeil, president of Yankee Construction, recalls, “AceClamp was the only roofing snow guard company willing to approach our problem by developing and inventing a new product to solve our specific problem.”

Bob Mercier and his co-engineer Caroll Marston of AceClamp envisioned a brand-new product called VAB (variable angled bracket) for inclined roofs that could solve the issue that Yankee Construction was facing with its library addition. Mercier says, “Where traditional metal roof snow guards can only be installed 90 degrees to the seam, AceClamp's new VAB solution allows for installation of snow retention rails within a variable range, making it possible to match up with more exotic architectural angles.”

The VAB's added flexibility allows roofing contractors to accommodate many more types of roofing designs. Explains Smith, “There was absolutely nothing on the market like it for accommodating this type of roof design or the odd angles we had to deal with. Not only did the VAB solve our rooftop space and angle problems, but installation was a breeze. All of the brackets were put together already. The installers just had to snap a line, run their clamps, attach the piping and they were done.”

Dinnebeil adds, "I think it was a few hours and we had the entire snow guard project completed. I can't say enough ... it was great. You see them from the street, and you know that they're going to work, and they're going to last. The pipes are heavy, the brackets are beefy, and the clamps are great. As a unit, they're just a solid piece of machinery."

Adds Smith, "No architect wants to see oddly installed equipment at all the wrong angles up on the roof of their new building. We were most impressed with AceClamp's willingness to invent something for us that helped us match those angles so well and so easily."

AceClamp applied for a patent for the VAB in January 2018, and the product is now available for most metal roofing seams in one-, two- and three-rail configurations. AceClamp's metal roofing snow guards and roofing clamp products are made in the USA from non-corrosive, rust-free materials and can be color coated to match any job.

Kristen Emond is a technical writer for AceClamp, Plainville, Conn. To learn more, visit