The ABC’s of Fabric Structures returns: The Letter J

by Sam Armijos

Two kids, a dog, 7 days a week of sports and preaching and promoting fabric structures all over the place can keep you pretty busy and away from writing but I’m back. I was stuck on the letter “J” because all I could think about was the name of my first born (“Jay #13”) and he was born when I was working on the Uni-Dome in Waterloo, Iowa in 1998.

When it comes to fabric structures and the letter “J”, the following comes to mind:

  • Jacking
  • Jacksonville
  • Jakob


“Jacking” is a term used for raising the mast or columns of a structure using hydraulic jacks. I recall a “sandpit” detail used at both Jacksonville, FL and at Fabritec’s Nautica Amphitheater  (now the Jacobs Pavilion) in Cleveland to raise the mast to tension the membrane from the ground instead of up in the air.

You basically raise the mast that is sitting in a large sand pit and add sand or shims to it to keep it level. Pretty simple and it works too! Gotta find that detail. Maybe you have seen it?

Jacksonville (Amphitheater)

Jacksonville Amphitheater also known as Metropolitan Park is one of the first permanent fabric structures built in the US for musical performances. Designed by my friends at FTL who I once worked for, the structure was the first of its kind on the waterfront and was followed by the likes of Pier Six Music Pavilion in Baltimore, Bank of America Pavilion in Boston and Ntelos in Portsmouth, VA, just to name a few. That structure is at least 25 years old and could probably use a recover by now but it still rocks.


Stainless steel cables and hardware always come to mind when discussing fabric structures and I always seem to see Jakob, a swiss maker of cables and fittings at trade shows. The do handrails, green screens, wire meshes, you name it. Nice stuff. You can find these types of cables and hardware from the likes of Ronstan and Pfeifer too.

Next week, we talk “K”.


2 responses to “The ABC’s of Fabric Structures returns: The Letter J

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