Hot, Hot Hot

It’s Hot in the USA right now. It’s summer.
Three (3) ways to keep cool with fabric structures:
1. Shade the horizontal: Shade Structures







2. Shade the vertical: Textile Facades







3. Shade when you want to: Retractable



Learning from EXPO

Germany-Pavilion-Milan-World-Expo-11I love World’s Fairs.

I love the pavilions there.

I went to the one in Seville in 1992 and it changed my life.

This year it is in Milan and if you can see past the crowds, construction and the protesters, there are some incredible structures out there.

ALOT of them using fabric as a building material.

Why not?

Its quick to design, engineer, fabricate and install. It can transform a space like no other material.

hdm_milan2015_001EXPO 2015 in Milan showcases ideas surrounding healthy, safe living and the vital needs of providing food for all.

Shade plays a huge role in solving those need.

It doesn’t always have to be these iconic shapes with high tech engineering.

expo_01It can be as simple as commercial tents in a large public square or flowing “Velas or Toldos” covering a small courtyard.

However, this all requires proper planning and an understanding of structure, materials, codes and foundations.

expo-milano-2015-main-squareThe same type of design, detail, technology and material used at EXPO can be used in your own events, places and spaces.

Textile facades used to clad pavilions can also enclose a parking garage. Giant shade structure petals used to shade alot of people and plants can be used in parks, restaurants and  public spaces in a smaller scale. Long space structures can cover parking lots, decks and sport facilities of all shapes and sizes.

532753bbc07a805cd80002c9_competition-entry-austrian-pavilion-milan-expo-2015-paolo-venturella_paolo_venturella_-_austrian_pavilion_expo_2015_04_adEven the pavilions that were not chosen to be constructed are just as interesting. Look out for new terms like “Vertical Farming” and ideas like growing your own food in your backyard fabric structure.

It’s a Fabric Structure World.


Do you really NEED a fabric structure?

IMG_3477Not really.

To Live, you NEED water, food and shelter.

Everything else is a WANT.

Well, do you really WANT a Fabric Structure?

It all depends.

If you are looking for a lightweight structure that provides protection from the Elements and happens to also improve the aesthetics of your place or space, then you WANT a fabric structure.

How Hard Can It Possibly Be?

IMG_3477There are 5.1 things that I learned over the past 12 months since I started my own business after 20 years working for a variety of companies.



1. “Its just steel, fabric and cables”. It seems that way but there is so much more. There is design, engineering, fabrication and installation. So much of it is behind the scenes. The client and the contractor and the user think its so easy but as they say, if it was so easy, everyone would be doing it. I learned that education and getting EVERYBODY to understand the process is critical. I found myself explaining the process over and over again. Education is key.

2. Running a business is not easy or fun. Forms, taxes, accounts receivables, accounts payables, dealing with subcontractors, vendors, suppliers, etc. When did they teach me this in Architecture School?! Found myself researching a lot of …for Dummies books to catch up. Thanks Amazon!

3. Friends are priceless. There were and are so many times when you need a friend. A friend to talk to about your business. A friend to contact in the middle of the night for a favor. A friend to ask if if they know someone who can save your day. A friend to cry with. A friend to laugh with. I have a lot of I.O.U’s to give out.

4. Have you ever heard of a thing called “Stress”? I learned that God is in control. There are so many things you think you got under control but you don’t. The weather is unpredictable and so are your clients, consultants and suppliers. I learned they all have lives outside of work  and the world does not revolve around me. Sorry and thanks in advance to all the people I have worked with over the past 12 months.

5. The Sun will come out tomorrow. There is a pretty good chance that the Sun will come out tomorrow. I’ve had good days. I ‘ve had bad days. Stress one day. Joy another. Money in. Money out. Late nights. All nighters. Weekends off. Vacation?! What’s that?

5.1 It’s good to have a Dog and a great family. They love you no matter what.

Back to School

EXPO-AXIS-SBAs-entrance-building-design-Interior-2My kids might be back to school but I find myself going back to school as well.

As a parent, I am looking for a college that fits my kids, researching university programs, faculty and facilities.  What makes them stand apart?

As an Architect and Builder, I am looking at projects at day care centers, high schools, colleges and research centers to make them more attractive to the owner, client, users. How do I make them cost effective, structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing?

Sheltering  people from one place to another is not as easy as it use to be. People are walking and riding bikes more…its a more transit society. And protecting their electronics from the elements too!

3.07 028EWA simple canopy from one place to another can look really boring if you just take it for what it is.

But when you begin to see that it can be part of the overall Architecture of your Daycare, Campus Green or Sport Facility, to name a few, it can play a major role.

Going Back to School can also be about learning new ways to do things and working with new people as well.

See you in class.


World Cup Shade

Roof shadeYou see it with the stadium roofs. The need to shade spectators and players. Found some interesting other areas that were shaded during the World Cup I thought I would share. Enjoy the rest of the Cup and keep cool.

world-cup-decoration 6282192-large capture_20140613_145834 dbd69b890f4642c9b54627550752acdd-ac7e3ec7c4784483ad4c53f390202d47-1 A boy rides his bicycle along Third Street of the Alvorada neighbourhood which is decorated for the 2014 World Cup in Manaus

Fabric Structures in your Backyard

Just in case you haven’t noticed, there are more fabric structures being built in your own backyard. It all depends on where your backyard happens to be. It could be in the back of your house, on the main highway in your city or even indoors in a place you frequent. They are light, you can light them and they transform space.

Seen a couple of new and interesting fabric structures lately and I thought I would share.

O.Ice Skating 003The Originators showed me an interesting structure they cal “trumpets” that are used for an ice skating show in the Boston area. I can see these wrapping columns, laying on the ground as sculpture even working outdoors for special events.

Made with spandex, you can light them, have graphics applied to them and they come neatly packaged.

Anaheim projectAnaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, also known as the ARTIC, is bringing ETFE acceptance to a new level. Under construction in Disney’s backyard in California, it will be a new hub for both resident and tourist. Cheaper and lighter than glass, the make the main structural frame even lighter.

renderingLooker for something smaller or modular, here is an idea called a “hypar umbrella”. I call mine iHYPAR. Its a framework for a multiple of tensile opportunities. The Hypar umbrella frame can support cable netting like a horizontal “green screen”, stretch fabric for special events, coated materials for waterproof applications and photo voltaic and even “hard” materials that can be formed into hypars.


Light is more.

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.