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Home run for Midland Engineering.

Home Run for Midland Engineering

When the umpire yells "Play ball!" April 18 at the new Comiskey Park in Chicago, fans will be focusing on the White Sox and the Tigers. They probably won't realize that without the efforts of a South Bend engineering and construction company, it would be a whole different ball game.

Midland Engineering Co. currently is putting the finishing touches on roofing at the $120 million stadium, which is going up across the street from the deteriorating, 80-year-old baseball landmark with the same name. Much of Midland's roofing at Comiskey has nothing to do with keeping the rain out, but rather is aimed at taming the breezes of the Windy City. Club fans across town at Wrigley Field often delight at the havoc caused by Chicago winds, which can turn a pop fly into a home run and vice versa. But the White Sox wanted to keep that element out of their park, so they called Midland.

"In Chicago, they don't call it the Windy City for nothing," says William R. Steinmetz Jr., corporate services manager for Midland. "The sheet metal roof is not there to keep people dry; if it rains, the fans will get wet. It's there to keep the wind out. It's technically called the wind screen."

Midland is installing standing-seam sheet metal wind screens above all upper-level stands at Comiskey. With 140,000 square feet of it, the blue sheet metal is a prominent feature of the stadium's architecture. Midland also is installing 80,000 square feet of EPDM rubber roofing. Steinmetz believes Midland was the only roofing company that bid on installing both types of roofing at Comiskey.

"We do an awful lot of both of those kinds of products, but they are completely different," he says. Many companies, he says, specialize in just one type of roofing system, and Midland's expertise in a variety of roofing systems has proven to be a competitive edge in the bidding process. "There is a trend in construction to combine the two of them."

The trend has been good for Midland in other places as well. The company's diverse experience doubtlessly played a role in the decision to have Midland apply all roofing at the New State Office Building in downtown Indianapolis. The 230,000-square-foot roofing project includes ballasted rubber roofing and copper sheet metal roofing. Midland also combined roofing systems atop the Market Tower in Indianapolis, and is applying Vermont slate and single-ply flat roofing as part of the restoration of the Wayne County Courthouse in Richmond.

The company, in fact, has a reputation for being able to tackle just about any roofing project. It has worked on the roofs of University of Notre Dame buildings as well as a Michigan nuclear power plant. Churches around Indiana and Illinois feature Midland's work, and the company's courthouse projects also include buildings in LaPorte and Pulaski counties. Factories and shopping centers have Midland roofs. Steinmetz even traveled to Charleston, S.C., in 1989 to help building owners and roofing contractors repair slate roofs damaged by Hurricane Hugo.

One of the projects of which Midland is most proud, says Steinmetz, is the 52-story Bank One Tower in Indianapolis. The state's tallest building features a pyramid-like structure at the top that many people think is the roof, but it's not, he says. "That's really a facade hiding the heating and ventilation system. The roof up there is flat."

The roof may be flat, but the Bank One Tower wasn't a simple job. "The top of the building is 660 feet in the air, and the wind never dies down up there," Steinmetz points out. "Obviously, safety is a concern." So is the integrity of the roof, he adds. With the winds that are common that high, the roof must be especially durable.

The roof over Comiskey Park is not as high, but Midland employees at the ballpark feel as if they're on top of the world. There's something exciting, Steinmetz says, about working on a project as American as hot dogs and apple pie.
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Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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