3G’s for Fabric Structures

FabricArchitect is going way back to “old school” with the letter “G”:

  • Geiger
  • Green Fabric Structures
  • Gas Stations


When I was studying fabric structures in College (I went to NJIT for undergrad and Rensselaer for Graduate work), one of the main pioneers in the field was David Geiger. David Geiger was an engineer who invented the air-supported fabric roof system used for almost half the domed stadiums in the world. He unfortunately died young at the age of 54. Dr. Geiger received more than a dozen patents for long-span roof systems. His air-supported system cover the Metrodome in Minneapolis and he Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan and he was part of the Geiger Berger team that introduced fabric structures to America. He also founded Geiger Engineers which is still around today. He also invented a cabledome roof system that is used at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.

Green Fabric Structures

“Green” can mean so many things but when it comes to fabric structures, it means being sustainable.

Sustainable design (also referred to as “green design” or “eco-design”) is the art of designing physical objects to comply with the principles of economic, social and ecological sustainability. The essential aim of sustainable design is to produce places, products and services in a way that reduces use of non-renewable resources, minimizes environmental impact, and relates people to the natural environment.

I know you have heard that before.

My experience?

Everyone has different viewpoints: Owner, client, Architect/designer, Consultant, Contractor on sustainable design.

My answer?

Green Fabric Structures can be more expensive but provide benefits beyond providing basic shade, signage and shelter. The provide unique Design, Materials and Construction benefits.

Design benefits include:

  • Day lighting (reduce the need for artificial lighting)
  • UV protection (reduce the risk of skin cancer)
  • Water collection (water used for irrigating plants, etc.)
  • Solar shading (reduce energy on building’s mechanical system)
  • Education (structures that teach people about UV protection, recyclability, etc.)

Material and Fabrication benefits include:

  • Longer lasting materials (Silicone, Tenara, PTFE, ETFE, PVC)
  • Recyclable materials (recyclable PVC and polyofin)
  • Energy it takes to create materials is low compared to other materials.
  • Energy it takes to fabricate membrane compared to other materials.

Construction and Installation benefits include:

  • Less and Lighter is more. More structure on fewer trucks. Lighter equipment needed to erect.
  • Less impact on the ground (smaller concrete foundations, utility tension cable anchors)
  • Shipping cost. Light load.
  • Retrofit or reuse of the site. “Remove and reuse”

Need more info?


Gas Stations

All this talk about design and sustainability makes me think of the need for alternative energy and “charging stations” for our new devices.

The filling station, also known as a gas station, petrol  station or service station, has been selling fuel for motor vehicles since 1888.

OK, What does this have to do with fabric structures?

Not sure when the first gas station canopy was created but it is now very common to see them used for branding and signage. It would seem ideal to use a fabric structure over the fuel pumps but there are few examples.

Try one on for size.

See you next time at the letter H.


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