At the end of January 2021, the congregation of St. Anthony Coptic Orthodox Church walked into its new building, located just outside of Orlando in Maitland, Florida. The church’s architecture makes a striking visual statement compared to other nearby buildings. The large recreational facilities and Agape Community Center, while impressive on their own, do not hold a candle to the campus’ most stunning feature: the church’s domes and radius roof. Finished with a custom color, Gold Mica, the metal roofing system perfectly catches the Florida sun for a brilliant shimmer that will dazzle onlookers for decades without fading.
Although the church’s christening day was breezy and mildly sunny, the weather in Maitland is not always so hospitable. In addition to receiving an extensive amount of sunlight, which can damage any roofing material, the church’s location is also within 50 miles of Florida’s east coast and within 100 miles of the Gulf of Mexico. This location makes it subject to tropical storm surges that can boast hurricane strength winds. In light of these conditions, the rooftop had to be more than eye-catching. It had to have the strength and durability to outlast the combination of different types of extreme weather.
To meet this challenge, the St. Anthony’s Coptic Church needed a metal roofing system that landed in the intersection of flexibility, durability and beauty. The DMC 150SS, a 0.032-inch-thick aluminum metal roofing system from Drexel Metals, can withstand the sun, rains and tropical storms that barrel through the area. It also bent perfectly to the roofline, which satisfied both the contractor’s and the congregation’s vision for a church with traditional Coptic architecture — a style known for domes, curved roofs and ceilings, with a cross-like building shape.
The roofing system achieved the exact shape and color St. Anthony’s church sought without sacrificing durability. Even with the extreme Florida weather and intense UV exposure, the Drexel Metals metal roofing system has a life expectancy of up to 60 years.
Meeting Design Specifications
Faced with the industry-wide skilled labor shortage, the architectural firm on the project, Scott + Cormia Architecture and Interiors, LLC, specified a metal roof because of its ease of installation, ability to perform in any weather and its ability to match the color of the fiberglass domes. The firm, however, did not specify a specific type of metal, thickness or brand.
When the contractors researched their options, they found the aluminum metal roofing system’s thickness and versatile seam width could be easily curved to follow the roof’s radius without sacrificing its ability to provide superior weather resistance. The roofing system also included concealed fasteners and a floating clip system that reduced the effect of thermal stresses on the panels, maintaining the smooth and uniform appearance across the 7,468 square feet of aluminum roofing substrate despite any fluctuations in outside temperature.
During installation, the 35-foot metal panels were roll-formed on site. Rami Sadrack, co-owner of Axios Construction Service, explained that the labor- and time-intensive trusses were segmented so they required wood fills to create the roof’s final shape. After the roof was shaped, the metal panels were then curved to fit the profile of the roof. Because the roofers shape and curve panels in tandem, this mitigated the long lead times and supply chain issues that have plagued the construction industry over the past few years. It also provided a product free of transportation damage.
After being formed and curved, the panels were seamed at the base by hand and completed mechanically with a robot seamer to provide a long-lasting and weathertight seal that is backed by a Weather Tightness Warranty of 20 years. The speed and quality of work from the robot seamer helped recoup some of the construction time given to the complicated truss system and the fact that the curves of the roof required the metal roofing system deviate from the standard 6-inch clip interval to 2-inch clip intervals.
The faster order-to-install time was especially relevant for this build. Originally designed and specified in October of 2017, the two-phase project faced a few delays, including those brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the extended project timeline, the roof itself took just 30 days to assemble — a process that included the complicated installation of its trusses. The roof was finished and the project brought to completion on January 31, 2021, in perfect alignment with the feast of the church’s patron saint.
Reinventing Traditional Style
In addition to the installation benefits, the metal roofing system was able to meet and exceed the congregation’s architectural requirements. Sadrack pointed out that the curves of traditional Coptic architecture have multiple symbolic meanings for the Coptic Orthodox Church, so they were a must-have feature for this project.
To its benefit, the metal roofing system was pliable enough to fit the roof’s extreme curves with ease. Because the metal roofing system could match the color and shimmer of the three fiberglass domes without costly workarounds, it created the design aesthetic the church’s leadership and congregation envisioned.
While most roofing projects can present problems for contractors and roofers to solve, the unique and complicated design of the church was completed with minimal issue thanks in part to the metal roofing system. Not only did the metal roofing lend itself to the Coptic style the congregation desired but it also proved to be the easiest to install, sidelining the need for hard-to-find skilled laborers.
Bending to fit the roofline perfectly and finished with a custom golden color to match the building’s three domes, the metal roofing system solved many of the problems that could have slowed construction. Further, because the metal coils were formed and curved on site, the crews were able to quickly usher in a new chapter in the story of St. Anthony’s Coptic Orthodox Church. The roofing system’s long lifespan and durability in conjunction with its easy installation translated to a cost-effective roof for the church.
Architect: Scott + Cormia Architecture and Interiors, LLC, Orlando, Florida, scottcormia.com
General Contractor: Axios Construction Services, Casselberry, Florida, axioscs.com
Roofing Contractor: Global Roofing LLC, Deltona, Florida
Roof System: Aluminum DMC 150SS finished with custom Gold Mica PVDF from Drexel Metals, drexmet.com