Copper Protects North America’s Most Beautiful and Vital Buildings

Copper Protects North America’s Most Beautiful and Vital Buildings
07 Jul 2015

Copper’s natural properties make it not only a beautiful building material, but one that is extremely durable and long-lasting. This makes it an ideal roofing material that protects and enhances a wide array of buildings. From homes and religious centers to schools and municipal buildings, copper provides a sophisticated look that is built to last.

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In 2014, an award-winning 8,200-square-foot (760 m 2) copper roof was installed on a home in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. Homeowners wanted the unique color to blend in with the home’s natural surroundings while ensuring durability and longevity. They knew that as the copper aged and took on a beautiful patina over time, the roof would complement the wood and natural stone used for the rest of the structure. The project went on to win a 2015 North American Copper in Architecture (NACIA) award in the category of New Construction.


During the previous year, Harvard University chose 20-ounce copper to renovate the roof of Tozzer Library. Copper’s durability, malleability and workability made it the best choice for the roof’s unique shape and random panel widths.


The Kansas Statehouse in Topeka also sports a sophisticated copper roof and dome, which was replaced in 2013. The renovation utilized nearly 127,000 pounds (58,000 kg) of recycled copper to replicate the historic roof. Rather than replace the copper cladding with a new material, copper was again chosen because its longevity would provide the best long-term value for the project. The new statehouse roof was honored with a 2014 NACIA Award.

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In addition to its use in residential and commercial buildings, copper has also continued to find its way into renowned architectural work. In 1927, Frank Lloyd Wright sketched and designed a fuel filling station for a street corner in Buffalo, New York. The project was never built, until 86 years later when the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum decided to construct it. The station’s roof required 440 individual pieces of 16-ounce copper to fulfill Wright’s vision. One side of the station is almost all glass, allowing natural light to illuminate the shine and beauty of the copper architecture.

Whether it is used to achieve the vision of a world-renowned architect or to protect the roof of an Ivy League library, copper continues to be used in some of North America’s most prestigious and essential architecture.  To view stunning images of all NACIA Awards winners, visit



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