The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant has been a longtime fixture in downtown Steamboat Springs. In the early 200s, we were approached by the owners to design an outdoor dining area on the roof of the restaurant. Not only would this increase the restaurant’s seating capacity, but it would also raise the diners above the bustle of Lincoln Avenue and give them a majestic view of Howelsen Hill, just across the Valley.
Building on top of an existing roof was not without its challenges. A new staircases needed to be fit into the existing restaurant, and life-saftey codes required a secondary exit stair off the back of the building. But the greatest challenge was how to put a new structure on top of an existing membrane roof without compromising or replacing that roof. Ultimately, we came up with a design where glue-lam beams spanned over the membrane, bearing only on the masonry parapets on either side of the building. A wooden deck was placed over the beams, giving the patrons a rustic dining surface, but letting water slip through the cracks to be handled by the original membrane below.