Lake Erie Transport Hub

Lake Erie

PVC (Vinyl) Shapes Transportation Hub into Lake Erie Centerpiece

ROOFING CHALLENGE: A parking facility in Erie, Pennsylvania, was being renovated and converted into the Erie Intermodal Transportation Center. The Center, designed to be a focal point on the newly revitalized Lake Erie bayfront, would transform the old parking facility into a new 56,000-square-foot transport hub for buses, taxi cabs, limousines, water taxis and ferry boat, with space for offices and retail stores.

Lorene McGuire, grants/planning manager at the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority (EMTA), said, “We wanted it to be a beacon for boaters on Lake Erie, as well as travelers of all kinds. So, the aesthetics of the building were very important.”


The architectural concept created by Roth Marz Partnership envisioned a striking combination of brick and glass with two dramatic domed standing seam metal roofs. Unfortunately, the cost of metal roofs was prohibitive, leading those involved to seek a more affordable, yet still aesthetically pleasing alternative.

Vinyl was that aesthetic roofing solution. Vinyl roofing membranes are typically available in white, beige, or gray. However, adding pigments to vinyl resin during formulation can create membranes in a wide spectrum of hues to match or accent a building’s palette. This pigmentation also allows the vinyl roofing membrane to take on the appearance of a more costly material, such as standing seam metal. Sarnafil’s Décor Roof System, an adhered, 60 mil G410 Patina Green membrane, which would provide the appearance of a traditional metal roof, was selected at a cost savings of nearly $1 million and with the ability to withstand some of the harshest winters in North America. In addition to cost savings, the vinyl roofing membrane came with the legacy of long-term, proven performance. The heat-welded seams of thermoplastic vinyl formed a permanent, watertight bond that is stronger than the membrane itself.

Producing a truly rounded shape on the two domed roof sections of the Lake Erie transport hub required the workers of A.W. Farrell & Son, the installer, to cut the insulation and roof membranes into triangular pieces. The layout and configuration of the insulation and membrane were critical to the appearance and performance of the vinyl roofing system, so A.W. Farrell worked with Sarnafil technical representatives to design special schematics and details that saved countless hours of hand fabrication.

“I run into people all the time that think it’s really a metal roof. The profiles create just enough shadow to break up the flat sheet, create the vaulted look and simulate an architectural metal roof,” said Marz. “Not only does the Center have roofs that provide the leak-proof security of hot-air welded thermoplastic, but it’s got the look of standing seam metal at a fraction of the cost.”

“We love the roofs on our new complex,” said EMTA’s McGuire. “The building’s shape, along with the colored roofs, makes the Center a virtual showplace. Everybody in Erie knows exactly where the Intermodal Transportation Center is.”