Roofers added safety equipment to the Armory for future maintenance.

Atop the Armory

Safety is top of mind when you overlook campustown from the Armory roof.

In November 2022, F&S building maintenance, roofers, and sheet metal workers worked on new Armory safety measures. Workers can use these new features to maintain one of the most iconic roofs in the world.

The outside portion of the installation is an epoxy paint-coated weather-proofing collar. The inside is a steel plate for additional structural support to allow galvanized steel wire to pass to the outside.

So far, eight collars and 32 galvanized steel wire straps have been installed. A total of 56 collars and 224 cables will be installed in 2023.

“This temporary anchor system is installed to keep our maintenance team safe and remain OSHA-compliant while conducting annual preventative maintenance and providing a rapid response to leaks or damage to the Armory’s barreled aluminum roof,” said Patrick Wood, F&S building maintenance special programs coordinator.

Praise the Roof

The Armory has gone through many phases, although its overall shape has defined its space on campus since long ago. From the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics:

Built in 1914, the Armory replaced the old “Military Drill Hall,” now known as H.E. Kenney Gymnasium Annex. It was designed by William Carbys Zimmerman. When completed the Armory was the largest free-span, no center support system structure in the world. The “drill hall” now referred to as the main floor, measures 200′ x 300′ with a ceiling height of 98 feet.

In 1927, a multi-story addition was built around the building adding classroom and office space. The addition, designed by Charles A. Platt, gave the Armory the look it has today, which matches the Georgian Revival style found in nearby buildings such as the Main Library, Huff Hall, and other campus buildings of the time.

From a 1958 roof replacement architectural drawing.

A Roof’s Truths

  • The Armory track and floor is 62,000 square feet of space.
  • The center of the arch is approximately 95 feet high.
  • It was considered the largest structure in the world without a center support at the time of construction; the most impressive three hinge-pin arch building in the world.
  • Used as a barracks for World War I for between 1,400 to 1,500 members of the Student Army Training Corps.
  • The building is currently the headquarter for campus ROTC units; the cadet regiment at the University of Illinois was then the largest in the country.
  • The military role is fundamental to the university. The University of Illinois was founded with a land grant from the Federal Government on the condition that instruction in military science and tactics should be given.
  • During World War II, the Armory was under armed guard 103 hours a week