New Roof Crowns Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Just west of Denver, nestled among huge red sandstone monoliths in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 6,450 feet, is the state’s most celebrated piece of architecture.

In 1928, the City of Denver acquired land in the Red Rocks area, formerly promoted as a community park and performance venue with a simple stage and existing rough slope used for seating. Through the joint efforts of many federal agencies and Denver area organizations, an amphitheater was constructed between 1935 and 1941 to provide a more functional concert setting.

The project initially required the removal of 25,000 cubic yards of rock and dirt and used 90,000 square feet of flagstone, 10 carloads of cement, 800 tons of quarried stone and 30,000 pounds of reinforced steel. Known as the only naturally occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world, Red Rocks has attracted some of the world’s most notable performers, from the legendary “C/W Outlaws,” Sting and The Beatles to opera stars and U2.

Crews from Superior Roofing installed Sharkskin Ultra self-adhering underlayment before attaching the copper panels using stainless steel clips.

Many improvements to the venue have been made over the years. In 2021, the City was looking to expand and upgrade the venue with a larger roofing structure over the main performance stage. An 8,500-square-foot Nordic Brown Copper standing seam metal roof was installed to replace the original one. The roof’s high-end copper was shipped from the German supplier, Aurubis, in coils and fabricated on site. Mounted to the venue’s stunning new roof is the complete DualGard snow retention system manufactured by S-5!

Challenging Conditions

The project presented numerous challenges, including the elevation of the site and extreme weather conditions. The mountainous terrain and the logistics of the venue presented their own set of challenges. Construction staging areas were limited, and it was difficult to maneuver equipment and material.

Furthermore, the venue is a designated historical site, requiring a tested, trusted and engineered solution that was aesthetically pleasing and would meet the architectural requirements and specifications. To execute the project, it took a talented team of roofing professionals from companies including architect Short Elliott Hendrickson, structural engineer Martin & Martin, general contractor GH Phipps, and roofing contractor Superior Roofing, Inc.

“The project began in early June 2020 and was completed in late April 2021,” says Mark Lopez, Superior Roofing’s safety director, who pointed to safety as the top priority on the project. “The biggest challenge was keeping all of our workers who were 80 to 100 feet off the ground from falling while protecting the park, the environment and the public.”

The redesigned roof over the stage at Red Rocks Amphitheatre is topped with an Arubis Nordic Brown Copper standing seam metal roof.

Unpredictable weather made the project even more complicated. “Red Rocks Amphitheatre is approximately 6,450 feet above sea level and subject to immediate climate change,” says Lopez. “During the winter, we often experienced uncontrollable shifts between hot and freezing temperatures, jeopardizing our field workers’ safety. Superior Roofing put construction on hold frequently to avoid risks, so the safety department analyzed weather conditions weeks in advance to mitigate the issue.”

The safety plan included personal fall arrest systems and the use of man lifts behind fencing installed by GH Phipps. “The floor and roof remained slippery from snow and melted off during the winter, so the crew had to stay constantly alert to the added hazardous conditions,” Lopez recalls. “To keep everyone safe and focused, Superior Roofing required and provided roofers with a full-body harness from FallTech to prevent fatal falls. The organization held continuous safety meetings where they discussed and reiterated safety protocols for the project. The whole organization understood the risks and took safety extremely seriously, making the roof replacement a very successful and safe project.”

The safety plan also had to ensure visitors to the site remained out of harm’s way, and areas were fenced off to keep curious onlookers far form danger. “Many people worldwide visit Red Rocks, making the place a hot spot in Colorado,” Lopez says. “The fencing kept people safe while also allowing the viewers to see the stage area and the process of the roof re-cover.”

A Logistical Puzzle

The unique site posed challenges in staging and moving materials and equipment, according to Lopez. “At times our organization had to use our crane to stage the materials by going over the mountain,” he says. “The closest we could get our supplies was to the loading dock below the construction site. Since the loading dock is traditionally used for artists to get equipment onto the stage, the area was too small to fit through large and heavy construction materials. Additionally, the site is surrounded by tall trees and man-made rocks, so we had to approach the situation with caution. As a solution, we parked the crane and hauled supplies in small amounts from the loading dock to the roof.”

Crews from Superior Roofing installed a 3-inch Atlas nail base and 2.5-inch layer of polyiso insulation, which was topped by Sharkskin Ultra self-adhering underlayment.

The Arubis copper panels were roll-formed on site, positioned on the roof and attached using stainless steel clips. “The challenge was running 70- to 80-foot-long panels on top of the roof while dangling a panel machine over the mountain,” notes Lopez.

The scope of work also included installing 20-ounce copper gutters supplied by Schafer and Company, column covers from Americlad, and the DualGard snow retention system from S-5!

The Snow Retention System

The new roof sits between 75 and 100 feet above the stage floor. Without a snow retention system, snowpack and ice could easily escape slide off of the sloped roof, endangering performers and concertgoers, as well as expensive equipment.

Because the roof is subject to both the downward and upward forces of snow and wind, it required a snow retention system designed to resist stresses in two directions. The DualGard snow retention system by S-5! was custom-engineered for the standing seam roof profile.

Custom powder-coated to match the roof, DualGard is a complete, two-pipe aluminum, snow guard system with strength, testing and quality for almost any standing seam profile so the team was able to accomplish perfect color matching to the copper roof — meeting the architectural requirements for this historical site.

Additionally, the DualGard was easy to transport to such a challenging setting. It is compact and comes in packaging lengths and weights that could be shipped via UPS and are easy to handle on site.

A Successful Outcome

Despite the many obstacles on site and complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was a success. “The mountains, long lines of stairs, curvy rocks, and weather all created challenges that required new solutions,” notes Lopez. “At every turn, our team met and overcame each and every challenge.”

The unique venue makes the job especially satisfying. “The venue is a historical site requiring attention to the smallest detail,” Lopez says. “The slightest shift in the roof placement could affect the quality and functionality of the venue, leaving no room for error.”

“Ultimately, the engineers, architects, and manufacturers planned on the roof’s performance and appearance, as well as the build and assembly while working around strict limitations,” Lopez continues. “This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to leave our stamp on a world-renowned venue which our team took great pride in completing. It was a job well done in every aspect — safety, quality, and productivity.”

For Lopez, the site holds a special attraction. “From a personal standpoint, the most rewarding part of the job is having my kids experience the new and improved generation of the venue,” he says. “My first concert was at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in 1986 when I was ten, when my parents took me to see the Beastie Boys. I have been to the park more than 250 times. As a father who grew up loving music and Red Rocks, I’m excited to share with my four kiddos the magic of Red Rocks.”


Architect for Roof Replacement: Short Elliott Hendrickson, Denver, Colorado,

Structural Engineer: Martin & Martin, Lakewood, Colorado,

General Contractor: GH Phipps, Greenwood Village, Colorado,

Roofing Contractor: Superior Roofing, Inc., Aurora, Colorado,


Metal Roof: Nordic Brown Copper standing seam metal roof, Aurubis,

Underlayment: Sharkskin Ultra Self Adhering Underlayment, Sharkskin,

Snow Retention: DualGard, S-5!,

Column Covers: AC-20P Aluminum Plate Panels, Americlad,

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