KCI Super Hangar Roofing Assessment and Repairs



Winning Team

David Ford
Geoffrey Hose
Christopher Roberts
Laurie Woods
Fatemeh Shimohammadi
Kyle Dominisse
Ping Mu
Ivan Chung

KCI Super Hangar Roofing Assessment and Repairs

Kansas City

Any traveler with a keen eye moving through the Kansas City International Airport (KCI) in the past 50 years may have wondered what the colossal structure near the airport’s active taxi-way could possibly be. With two massive parabolics and hundreds of rectangular concave pods, the KCI Superhangar looks more like a moon base than an airplane overhaul plant for some of the US’s largest airplanes. The Overhaul Base, originally owned and operated by Trans World Airlines (TWA) to service its entire fleet, became one of Kansas City’s largest employers throughout the 1960s and 70s. However, the decline of TWA, and later counterpart American Airlines, eventually led the KC Aviation Department to acquire and lease the space by the 2010s.

Starting in 2016, Walter P Moore performed a roofing and structural condition assessment, study of the existing roof structure conditions, and preliminary design for repair options for the Superhangar. The roof’s unique topography of parabolic shells and rectangular pods was originally covered with a spray foam roofing system. Observations and tests from the assessment concluded that the roof had several deficiencies to address, both inside and outside the structure, including water infiltration and structural distress.

From this assessment, a plan of action began to form. Many of the rectangular, concave pods needed to be repaired immediately, and the foam roofing system needed to be removed from the parabolic shells and replaced. However, the sheer scale of the project, plus its proximity to an active airplane taxi-way and precarious weather conditions, complicated matters.

The team of Walter P Moore engineers and enclosure consultants worked collectively with the Kansas City Aviation Department to ensure the most pressing issues were solved first. The team focused on the 40’ by 40’, concave pods that were most concerning, which constituted about a quarter of the entire square footage of the flat roof. For the parabolic shells, the team had to solve several problems in real-time. High winds and rain impacted the timeline and made conditions on the roof unstable and unsafe for workers. The winds also made it difficult to remove the foam from the structure without it flying onto the nearby active taxi-way. To avoid this, the team developed an operating system to minimize debris on the roof and on the ground far below.

Roofing replacement for the KCI Superhangar parabolic shells finished in fall of 2019. At the same time, Walter P Moore conducted a larger structural investigation of the building that was also completed around the same time and led to repair recommendations and a capital asset maintenance plan. Though the building has many issues left to address and fix, Walter P Moore will ensure its longevity on the KCI skyline. The Superhangar will continue to service airplanes, house companies that create jobs, and spark the curiosity of KCI travelers for many years to come.

Fun Fact: Designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen (of St. Louis's Gateway Arch fame) in the early 1950s, the Kansas City International Airport's 'Super Hangar' was the first to use cables to support its roof.