Parapet Design, Issues & Repair

Event Type: 
Friday, February 14, 2014
11 E Madison, 3rd Floor, Chicago (Gensler)


Architecturally, parapet walls have many different styles and forms. They often provide a decorative termination to building facades and sometimes extend significantly above the roof level to hide unsightly roof top equipment. Regardless of style, the design considerations and service life issues for parapet walls can be very complex. Parapet walls are exposed on three surfaces and must consider exposure to wind loads on both side of the wall and exterior elements such as rain while successfully integrating with the roofing and structural systems. If not detailed, constructed or maintained properly, parapet walls can be a source of water infiltration into the building and/or result in structural insufficiencies of the facades and structural roof system. Repairs can be intrusive and expensive.

General design principles and considerations as well as common issues observed in both historic and modern parapet detailing and construction will be discussed. Case studies of parapet repairs and replacements will be presented. Case studies will discuss the challenges of retrofit designs for the parapet wall structural system and detailing of integral flashing systems. Economic and aesthetic issues will also be discussed.


An invite will be sent out to BEC Chicago members approximately 10 days in advance. For non-BEC members interested in attending contact


1. Understand design considerations for loads implied on parapet walls
2. Understand the difference between pre-1950 and post 1950 masonry wall water management systems
3. Understand different types of distress mechanisms in masonry walls
4. Understand flashing detail issues that can be encountered at parapet walls


Matthew E. Novesky, R.A. Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.

Since joining WJE in 2000, Mr. Novesky has been involved in numerous projects related to the inspection, investigation, and repair of distressed conditions in existing buildings. He has performed evaluations of brick, terra cotta, stone masonry, concrete, and glass facades. He has conducted numerous building water leakage investigations, provided recommended repair options, and observed installation of repair solutions to mitigate leaks. He has conducted numerous condition surveys and prepared documents for repair of both contemporary and historic landmark buildings and structures.

Mr. Novesky has authored papers on exterior facade materials related to typical construction detailing and failure mechanisms of numerous building materials.


An invite will be sent to BEC Chicago members approximately 10 days in advance. For non-BEC Chicago members interested in attending contact