Category Archives: Fabric Structures

The Fabric Structure of Tomorrow?

nys81Recently there has been a lot of press on the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair in New York City and the Tent of Tomorrow.

Designed by Architect Philip Johnson, the structures debuted to the world on April 22, 1964 and quickly became among its most popular attractions.

5322884763_2918e3d37c_zTents of this size are now called “fabric structures” and radial design roofs are very common today mostly for sport stadium roofs.

As for the Future of the Tent of Tomorrow, there is much debate about what to do with it now.

The pavilion’s 16-100′ tall concrete columns (which are still in good shape)  supported a then “state of the art” 50,000 sqft foot translucent, multicolored fiberglass tile.

64-tent-tomorrowAs far as I know, there are two options on the table: $15 million to tear it down or $50-75 million to restore it to its original form.

Tearing it down will leave a space that many will fight over for years. Restoring it will create a tourist attraction in my opinion not worth visiting.

Here is a suggestion:

etfe_projects_earthbackWhy not build the Fabric Structure of Today.

The roof can made with solar panels that open an close and provide energy to the city. The walls made of ETFE can enclose a vertical farm that produces food. The structure can be designed to collect water which can be used for a number of things. Add a wind turbine too.

Who pays for it? We do. Who benefits? We do.

The Fabric Structure of Tomorrow should be a machine for Living, Teaching, Researching, Producing, Growing and Enjoying. Its more than just shade.



Here comes the sun

“Here Comes The Sun”- The Beatles

MDT Typ E - 75Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

NH imageLittle darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Shadesail-Soltis-92-5Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
It’s all right, it’s all right

Lansdale concert in the parkIts here. Spring. Summer. Outdoor events.

Check your old stuff, plan for new stuff. custom or stock.


Fabric Structure Samplings

Christo and Jeanne Claude's Wrapped Reichstag, 1995Picking the right fabric can be the key to everything.

We all know what a piece of wood, brick or glass feels like.

We can go outside and find an example pretty quickly.

What about fabric?

We can look at an awning or tent or think about our umbrella or jacket.

When you start thinking about building a structure out of fabric that provides, shade, last a long time and that you can apply graphics to (just to name a few), there are plenty of different fabrics to choose from.

How do you start?

Here’s my suggestion (if I forgot a manufacturer, let me know):

PTFE (30 year life span, Class A non-combustible fabric, permanent)

Saint Gobain, Chukoh, Verseidag, Taconic, Obeikan, Sefar

PVC (20-25 year life span, Fire Retardant)

Serge Ferrari, Seaman, Mehler, Naizil

Ask for a sample and see what you get and how fast you get it.

Let me know if I can help.

Customer Service and being able to touch and feel the fabric is a great first step.

Al Fresco is coming

Resort Umbrella-smallI know it doesn’t look that way but Spring is coming across the U.S. and for restaurants and homeowners, it time to eat outdoors.

A couple of things to remember:

1. Coming from the FabricArchitect, you know I’m going to say shade! You need it for sun protection if you have a patio, deck or balcony and if you own a restaurant, you need it for sun and rain protection and it promotes your place too.

2. A patio creates a great dining experience. It says to people walking and driving down the street that this is place that’s alive.

3. Having a patio unfurnished tells robbers that your house may not be occupied. Empty seats out front of a restaurant can tell people that the food is no good or unpopular.

4. If you need a permit, go get one ASAP. In some cities, it takes a long time and everyone is going to try to do it at the same time. Beat the rush.

5. Besides a shade structure, table and chairs, check your outlets and accessories like your grill, mini frig and storage.

Enjoy the rest of the winter.

Here comes the sun.

That Face

king fahad LibraryMost buildings have a face or facade. The face can be made of a number of different materials. The face can say a lot about a building or nothing at all. Some faces can be a billboard and energy saver at the same time. Some can turn heads. Some can change air movement. Some can capture the sun. Some can be very cheap while some can be very expensive. Some are mirrors which reflect while some can be clear as glass. Some are quite thin and some can be quite thick.

A building facade can express the mood or characteristics  of its citizens; Day or night, Urban or rural. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. They can be timeless or of the moment. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Building facades are much like the clothes we where.

It’s cold out side today. Is your building dressed for the occasion?

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:)