Back to school time at Valparaiso University in Indiana this year means sophomores flocking to their new homes at Beacon Hall. The inside of the new four-story suite-style residence facility boasts a 24-hour computer lab, prayer room, floor lounges and laundry facilities. On the outside, it’s what you don't see that’s impressive.

Hidden behind roof ‘screens’ covered with single-width slate polymer roof tiles from DaVinci Roofscapes are HVAC systems. What appears to be a peak at the top is not actually the top of the roof—it’s where the roof/screen stops so that the HVAC equipment can rest on a flat membrane roof and be open to the sky above, but hidden from view.

“The site location was very tight so we needed to have the HVAC equipment on the roof,” says Fred Plant, executive director of campus planning & projects and environmental sustainability at Valparaiso (Valpo) University. “The building design is a form of a Collegiate Gothic so we wanted to have a slate tile roof. However real slate is too heavy for this type of application.”

“FGM Architects was familiar with the imitation slate roof from DaVinci and made the recommendation. We felt that the composite slate properly simulated natural slate, had a good warranty and was budget friendly.”

Installed by Midland Engineering Company, it’s the first time the slate gray sustainable roofing product has been used on the Valpo campus, but it may not be the last.

“If we have an appropriate application we would certainly consider using the DaVinci composite roofing again on campus,” says Plant. “The finished look of the product on Beacon Hall is very appealing ... and it does exactly what the design intended it to do—it hides the HVAC systems from site.”