The Cambrian

Hearst Castle Visitor Center roof is being replaced. Here’s how it will affect visitors

The Hearst Castle Visitor Center is getting a roofing facelift in a $1.091 million project that’s estimated to take about nine months, weather permitting.

The tricky part, according to Dan Falat, superintendent of the state park district that includes Hearst Castle, will be redoing the leaking center-section skylights and replacing the cylindrical section that sits atop the roof with a more traditional look that will complete and blend into the A-frame styling. Ventilation will be improved in the rear of the 33,000-square-foot State Park building. Some adjacent roof tiles will be removed, and some of them have already been taken off in work that began last week.

The even trickier part? All that work will be done while hundreds and thousands of people stream through the center each day on their way to buying tour tickets, getting to and from their tour buses, looking at museum-style displays and buying souvenirs and munchies.

Falat said the project plan, which has taken months for state park engineers and others to finalize, includes creating a dropped interior ceiling to protect the public during the time when the old skylights come off and that area is open to the elements until the new, tinted skylights are installed.

Weather permitting? That clause can cause jitters in any project, but especially one that runs through the rainy season, a project in which part of the roof will be gone.

Falat said they have plans in place to deal with those potential problems. “I think the way the project is designed will minimize the impact to visitors,” he said. “It takes a lot of logistics, because there’s only so much space.”

Pacific Management and Development of Paso Robles is doing the visitor center’s roofing project.

The district and State Parks have experienced reroofing at Hearst Castle before. In 2015, contractors completed a $3.6 million, 19-month project to repair the red tile roof on the hilltop historical monument’s main house – the 68,500 square-foot, 38-bedroom La Casa Grande.

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