ARCHITECTURAL: Copper Roof Replacement Earns Top Award

Harder Mechanical receives the NACIA Award for its work on the Studio Building in downtown Portland, Oregon. 

The nine-story Studio Building in Portland, Oregon, was built in 1926. Harder Mechanical replaced the aging roof with 20-ounce copper panels. 


NACIA (North American Copper in Architecture) chose Harder Mechanical Contractors as a recipient of 2023’s NACIA award. Harder Mechanical was one of only 19 companies recognized for their outstanding work with copper. 

The Studio Building in Downtown Portland, Oregon is a nine-story building that was constructed in 1926. It was built by Ellison-White Conservatory of Music and featured 128 rehearsal studios. Later, the building was repurposed into an office building, with the bottom floor being leased by the restaurant Pastini. 

After decades of use, the owners of the Studio Building decided, that due to age, the roofing needed replaced. Harder Mechanical Contractors replaced the old roofing with 20-ounce copper panels — aiming to replicate and honor its historical features. As the Studio Building is an historic building, it was important to both the owners and Harder Mechanical to accurately reflect the building’s original design. 

While updating the Studio Building, Harder Mechanical faced many challenges. The primary challenge was the Studio Building’s location. Due to the Studio Building being in Downtown Portland, Oregon, Harder Mechanical had to work around pedestrians and ensure both public safety and employee safety. Another major challenge was that the Studio Building remained occupied for the duration of the project. Harder Mechanical had to work around occupants and aimed to limit disruptions to the occupant’s day-to-day schedules. Harder Mechanical also encountered various weather challenges. 

“Access was extremely challenging,” says Project Manager Jeanette Lampe. Through her leadership, the contractors were able to maintain great communication, which helped them focus on safety, details and maintaining deadlines. “We leveraged a long-standing relationship with a swing stage company, Spider Staging, to erect towers and rolling swing stages so we could trolley out to get past the dormers and reach the outermost edge of the building. We could also trolley them back in to get to the top and get our workers safely back on the roof.

Project challenges included navigating a busy downtown environment while ensuring both public and employee safety.

“We also had to work with our engineer to review the original drawings from the early 1900s to make sure we were not going to collapse the building with the weight of the stages and locate acceptable tie off points for access,” Lampe continues. “Many details like this went into this challenging and rewarding project. We were really happy to be a part of it.”

The Studio Building is nearly a century old, and Harder Mechanical was able to provide beautiful updates while simultaneously maintaining its historical significance.

“The Studio Building Copper Roof Replacement was an important project to Harder Mechanical for two reasons,” explains Todd Firestenberg, sheet metal division manager, Harder Mechanical Contractors. “First, the preservation of the historic Ellison-White Conservatory of Music. Second, the project was a great reflection of Harder Mechanical’s architectural sheet metal capabilities — particularly on sunny afternoons.”