Category Archives: Fabric Structures

Fabric Structures and Water

44Fabric Structures are made with a waterproof material that does not absorb water. Everything that hits the membrane slides down. There are a couple of things you can do with the water. You can collect it. You can divert. Or you can allow it to cascade off the edge naturally.

fotoatirantbajoYou can collect it by design as in an inverted umbrella or gutter. Depending on the region you live in, you can collect a lot of water and use it for landscaping, etc. You might be collecting it in a gutter to send it to a storm drain or avoid water in a specific area. Gutters and inverted openings are fine but they need to be maintained because trash and leaves can also find their way there too.



You can divert it using a number of devices from rubber to extrusions to clamping to creating fabric sleeves to get water to go where you want it to go. Based the on the design and the slope of the membrane, water will find its way to its lowest point. The low point can be designed as an architectural feature or traditional gutter, leaders and scuppers are used to bring the water to the ground.

Melbourne Showground DetailThe lightest and most beautiful solution is to let the water cascade naturally off the sides. The water can fall to a landscaping, a trench drain or rock bed along the perimeter. This way the tensile structure remains light.

Let nature take its course.

Inclement Weather

0134-Stuttgart-Otto“Inclement weather” basically means its going to be stormy, raining, snowing or windy. In most parts of the world, we experience changes of seasons and temperature. Around the Northeast, in January, there is a pretty good change we are going to get SNOW. Other places, it can be high winds or a lot of rain. We prepare ourselves for those events: snow blowers, salt and emergency “things”. Buildings and public places need to prepare themselves as well. Streets need to be cleaned, walkways need to be covered and outside building equipment needs to be maintained. If you are going to invest in any type of building or even a fabric structure, make sure its designed for “inclement weather”.

Stay safe and warm.

Porte Cochere de Fabric

Hyat render

How many French architectural terms do you know?

A porte-cochere also known as a “carriage porch” is the architectural term for a porch or portico-like structure at a main or secondary entrance to a building.

It is primarily function allows a horse and or motor vehicle to top under such a structure in order for the occupants to be dropped off or picked up  protected from the elements.

old hyatt pixThe porte-cochere was a feature of many late 18th and 19th-century homes and public buildings like Buckingham Palace and the White House.

Today, they are often constructed at the entrance to public buildings such as churches, hotels, health facilities, homes, and schools.

The porte-cochere has been made with a number of materials including fabric. This project in Princeton was originally made a skeleton frame and canvas.

New HyattThe new one for the Princeton Hyatt designed by BLT Architects out of Philadelphia and fabricated and installed by Fabritec Structures uses architectural exposed steel and Teflon coated fiberglass.

Its Shade, Signage and Shelter.

Now, how many French architectural terms do you know?

Fabric Structures on Ebay?

SAMSUNGNot exactly.
But when the mechanical system on top of Ebay’s building in Draper, UT is in need to be covered, fabric structures is an ideal solution.

It all started with a phone call and a picture of the existing condition. A huge AC cooler on top of a brand new building designed by the SmithGroup. Drive to and from the building and you can tell that it takes away from a beautiful glass and steel structure sitting on IMG_0231the desert landscape.

The solution is simple. Build a steel frame and enclose the frame with some kind of cladding. A couple of issues come to mind. In Utah, there is heavy wind and snow. The cladding will need to be able to take that. Traditional cladding materials like perforated metal or plastics might work but besides being expensive by themselves, they would require alot more steel frame work  to attach to. Also, they are bulking and require cranes and other equipment to get them on the roof and support them during install.

Fabric is lightweight, fire resistant and comes in a variety of colors and widths. Once we got the shop drawings of the steel frame, we could then make membrane panels in our shop, ship them to site, get them on the roof easily and install them in a timely manner.ebay 7

This solution is not just for new construction. Many building’s roofs require screening, shading and new ways to improve their overall appearance. Architectural Fabrics have life spans of 10, 20 and even 30 years. All our designs are looked at by designers, engineers, project managers and installer who know all about roofs.

Send us a bid or let us make you an offer.

Back to Work

IMG_2228After a long holiday weekend, its back to work. The summer has been brutal so far this year in the United States.

Heavy rains in some areas and temperature close to 100 degrees on the East and West Coast.

Shade and shelter isn’t a luxury item, it’s a necessity. The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) knows how to take care of its users. The pedestrian walkways at Vienna Metro Station are covered with fabric structures.

IMG_2238So whether you are coming off a bus or train or parked your car in the parking garage, these canopies keep you cool and dry.

It can’t help you getting there on time:)

Fabric Structures and Airports

AMBI1894Most people think of the Denver Airport when it comes to fabric structures in the USA but you may be under a fabric structure in another airport and not even know it.

Fabric Structure do not always have to make a grand statement or be seen from miles away. The most common place to find them is at the departure and arrival areas at many Airports across the country. If you travel quite a bit, you might know that the picture above is from the San Diego Airport.

You get dropped off or picked up with out getting wet. You might be standing under one in the hot sun waiting for your shuttle to come by.

Its all included in making your travel experience enjoyable. No charge.

San Diego Int'l Airport ~ San Diego CA

Now which umbrella do you want to be under?

umbrellas againHave you ever been under a fabric structure?
I’m sure you have.
If you had your choice of being under a small umbrella or a big one, which would you choose?

Fabric Structures come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes it makes more sense to build one big one than a few small ones but somestimes an umbrella within an umbrella helps in giving a sense of scale to a place.

One size doesn’t fit all.

Meet you at the Fabric Structure

Sea Lion Sound St Louis ZooCan you find the fabric structure in this picture?
Of course you can.
Its white.
Its stands out.
It makes you smile.

Fabric Structures come in all shapes and sizes and one thing it does do, is make you look.

Maybe because it reminds you of a circus tent or party tent you were once in.

Or maybe because it doesn’t look like everything else.

Or maybe its hot or raining and you need some shelter.

Meet me under the fabric structure.

Lightweight Architecture: What makes people want to go to a Tent Sale?

car_dealershipIts warming up in the Northeast (USA) so that means garden centers, outdoor restaurant seating and tent sales are opening up everywhere.

Tent Sale?

I went online to see if I could learn about the history of the “tent sale”. No such luck. Who came up with that idea? It seems like a couple of times a year stores, especially car dealerships, set up tents in their parking lots to sell more products, offer discounts and extend their selling space. The tents are erected to attract customer, cover products and people from inclement weather and they’re just fun.

But why only a couple of times a year?

Classic_HUMMER_Grapevine_Texas_300dpiIf you plan properly, you can design and build a lightweight fabric structure that provide shade, signage and shelter all year-long.

Shade is good.

Shade Structures protect people from harmful UV rays and keeps things cool.


Everyone knows when the circus is in town. You can get a really cool fabric structure built that  everybody will remember or use as a meeting point or for directions.


Frosken1You can use a fabric structure for a variety of purposes. Use it for special events, employee lounge, clearance sales, outdoor eating, job fairs, fashion shows, demonstrations, the sky’ the limit.

Another Inconvienent Truth

article-2225557-15C4AFDA000005DC-914_964x641No, this is not a sequel to Al Gore’s documentary on global warming. It’s about the difficulties of traveling from one place to another. Travel has become a nightmare and its only getting worse.

The latest terrorist attacks and added security in transportation is making travel a difficult chore. There are many complaints but few viable solutions. Each city and place has experienced different kinds of congestions so there is not one universal solution.

However, there is hope. The beauty of building light or using lightweight structures is that one can test ideas and transform a space, place or concept very quickly. Its OK to fail but its OK  to succeed too!

MDT Typ S - 04Pedestrian traffic is tight. In cities, the sidewalks are not big enough any more. Stores are taking over the front. Newspaper stands and kiosk are taking over the sidewalk. Traffic poles, curb cuts and parking meters add to the clutter. Density is not all that bad.

How about closing some streets to vehicle traffic and giving the street back to the city walker? How about a street lined with public tables chairs and umbrellas. It’s already working in some cities. How about trying it more often and in more places?

859Auto traffic is at a stand still too. What city doesn’t experience rush hour traffic? Main Street roads are getting wider. Highways look like runways. They all seem to be designed for todays traffic with no plans for the future. It’s all not that bad, Ezpass and prepaid devices make life a little better but there will some day be no free rides with even more cars on the road. Another issue for all the traffic jams is the weather. Did you know that many traffic accidents are caused by sun glare, wind gust, hail and snow?

How about some shade structures (natural or artificial) installed over some prominent street for reducing traffic emergencies. How about fabric “visors” across highways that would reduce sun glare or extending tunnels with “vestibules” to reduce the amount of snow or water that clogs up an entrance.

selector12Train, Light rain and Bus traffic is suppose to reduce congestion and get people out of their cars. Have you been on a mass transit system recently? They are packed. They are adding cars so you have to walk a long distance to the exit of your choice. Bus stops are not big enough to handle rush hour lines and don’t protect people once they get off.

Imagine walking out of your home and into your car, then to a covered parking garage at a station in which you walk protected by the elements to your bus or train and then to your office without getting wet! That’s a commute!

Pink_Arch_05_sizedAir Traffic control or out of control? Flying has become the longest commute. Besides not having reasonably priced non stop airfare, there is the constant need for connections and the constant delays. The airplane experience has not improved since 9.11.

Imagine a trip like this: Getting to the airport, free valet parking, walking into the terminal with your ticket and luggage and walking thru a tunnel that consist of equipment that checks you better than the existing security service. You then walk straight into the plane and your luggage is taken and stored for you. No more Platinum members and elite status. Everyone is treated alike. I know…who pays for this.

Imagine. Smart Phones to Smart streets, to Smart roads, to Smart highways, to Smart rails to Smart terminals to Smart planes to Smart space.

It starts with Smart people and the Earth has plenty of them.