Tag Archives: Birdair

2017: Towards a Clear and Vertical Fabric Architecture

It’s time to look back on the year that was. And some thoughts on the year to come.

In the fabric structure industry here in the USA, two major projects caught my eye: Viking Stadium in Minneapolis, MN and the Stadiums at the US Open in Flushing Meadows, NY.

vikingstadiumta-597187860To the general public, the roof of the new Viking Stadium looks like a typical glass skylight but just the idea of watching a sporting event in a temperature controlled environment yet still being able to see the sky is what will become common in the future.

ETFE is the word of the year and a close second is transparency.

063471_013Designers will see new potential for mall renovations, airports, transit stations just to name a few. Developers and users will insist their traveling and shopping experience never be rained out. For those of us that want to look small, look no further to outdoor school areas, home extensions and public plazas to have “clear” roofs.

To see and be seen.

arthur-ashe-stadium-debut-retractable-roof-2016-us-tennis-open-01The US Open Tennis Facility in NY showed the sports world here in the US that a retractable roofs is no longer an option but a necessity. Is Met Life Stadium next?

It may look like a smaller version of the Dallas Cowboy stadium roof but it works in an urban context. The upcoming Atlanta Falcons Stadium roof will show case the retractable roof as an iconic piece of the Architecture in the city.

rossetti_usta_gs_792_0Another upcoming necessity will be the textile facade like seen at the Bille Jean King Court a the US Open. The facade will be seen more in convention building types. Old and new sports facilities will be wearing temporary or permanent coats. Designed using parametric equations and fluid dynamics or just plain and simple, these new facades will be ever changing billboards, climates changers and visual jewelry for buildings of all shapes and sizes from offices to warehouses to industrial buildings.

And “textile facades” work small too. They can screen mechanical systems, parking garages and a neighbor in style.

The Sky’s the limit and so is the horizon in 2017.

Have a Happy New Year!

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An Umbrella when you need it

Hypar ParkHypar Park is an adaptable shade structure system based on the concept of the hyperbolic paraboloid.

The structure is designed to support a “Hypar” membrane. The fabric roof can be made of structural mesh, vinyl coated polyester, ptfe, etfe or stretch fabric  and can be installed on the structure quite easily.

These architectural umbrellas can be laid out in any configuration and are ideal for both healthy living and festive play.

The structure is designed to support a lighting system which uses the membrane as a reflector. The structure allows the material to be changed quite easy for whatever mood you are in.

An umbrella comes in all shapes and sizes. You can have a personal umbrella or one large enough to cover two, three or more people.

Go big or go home.

Take a few big umbrellas, space them out properly and you can have a park full of shade and water protection.

mdt canopyI call it Fabric Landscape Architecture.

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.

Fabric Structures: Q&A

The FabricArchitect continues to go thru the alphabet of Fabric Structures and today looks at the the letter “Q”.

I thought finding words starting with the letter Q was going to be hard but the words came pretty quick:

Queensland (Australia)
Quasar
Qatar

Queensland (Australia)

If you want to see alot of fabric structures, head over to Australia, particularly Queensland which is the northeastern part of that beautiful country. I was in Brisbaine in 2000 visting SSP (Shade Structures Pacific) and just loved to see that fabric is well received as a building material and that there were many uses for it. Hotel entries, outdoor dining, walkways, interiors, etc. I dont know if there is a law or requirement in that country but I found them everywhere. I applaud the design community for getting them built in so many places. Architects love to quote “Learning from Las Vegas”. People interested in Fabric Structures should “Learn from Australia”.

Quasar

Small scale fabric structures include umbrellas, barrel vaults and canopies built to code and built to last. One common design in the marketplace is a single post “hypar”.

Birdair calls theirs “Quasar”. FabriTec calls theirs the “Aurora” but it is the closest thing to custom at a standard cost. The structure has a nautical feel to it with stainless steel exposed cables and a canopy cover that is quite eye catching. These structures come as small as 12′ and I’ve seen them as big as 30′. If you want to do something beyond your standard umbrella, this is the way to go.

Qatar

Most people don’t even know where Qatar is but if you follow soccer, you know Qatar is adjacent to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the Persian Gulf and will be the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Alot of new stadiums are being planned there and as you can imagine, they all need shade which means look to see a variety of new fabric structures in the Middle East.

“R” comes next.

Fabric Architect Looks at Bandshells, Birdair and Biaxial Testing

Series continues on Fabric Structures: A to Z

Today I’m going to comment on the B’s (That’s me on the right in Bangkok)

  • Bandshell
  • Birdair
  • Biaxial Testing

Bandshell

bandshell is a large, outdoor performing venue typically used by bands and orchestras. The roof and the back of “the shell” protect musicians from the weather and reflect sound through the open side and out towards the audience.

They can be made of concrete, wood and just about anything but my favorite is fabric (of course). Fabric Structure bandshells can be temporary or permanent and come in all shapes and sizes. They can even be designed to work indoor.

Personally, I like the temporary bandshell from Anchor Industries and Tentnology. Both good buddies of mine. If you need to go permanent, I like to bring along FTL Design Engineering Studio with me (FYI: I use to work there myself). They have a lot experience with these kind of structures.

Birdair

It’s hard to talk about Birdair because they are my biggest competitor but my role  is to promote the industry and encourage more use of fabric structures worldwide. Birdair is the most recognized name  associated with large-scale fabric structures. The have been involved in the many of the large-scale structures built for Olympics, World Cups and a number of sports stadiums. They have recently made news because they were the roof manufacturers of the Metrodome in Minneapolis and Skyline Stage at Navy Pier in Chicago which both collapsed  during a2010 winter storm in the midwest.

They are big users of Sheerfill teflon coated fiberglass from Saint Gobain and they now push a product call tensotherm which is a roofing material which has some thermal properties.

Birdair is located in Upstate New York but is owned by the Japanese company Taiyo Kogyo. They advertise heavily in Architectural Record in order to be “first in mind” with Architects but there is no such thing as “birdair structures”. The company which started in 1957  under the direction of Walter Bird and rose to prominence in the 1980’s with projects like the Haj Terminal is a skeleton of itself with many of the designers, engineers and employees now retired or gone elsewhere to work.

“Companies don’t build projects, people do”. Be comfortable with the people you want to work with before you proceed to build a fabric structure.

Biaxial Testing

No two fabrics are alike. They stretch differently and subsequently require what is called a biaxial test. A Biaxial test stretches a membrane in both the warp and fill direction to determine the elongation behavior under certain loads.

How much do you need to know?

As an owner or designer of a small-scale structure, you should at least ask to make sure one has been done if not on your specific fabric but on a sample of the material you have purchased. On bigger projects (i.e. stadiums), a biaxial should be done and recorded. Anything to do with fabric, testing and performance, I always go to Tensys. They are the best.

With all this talk about fabric testing, competitors and bandshells, it make me want to help someone get something built.

Next I will comment on cables, catenaries, cutting patterns and COST.

Metrodome Collapse: The end of an era in Fabric Structures?

We are living in interesting fabric structure times.

An air-supported structure like the Metrodome which recently collapsed is a structure that uses air to support itself.

The air is generated by electrical or gas powered systems and as utility prices have risen, so has the cost of operating these kinds of buildings.

However, they are still inexpensive to build in comparison to buildings requiring major structural systems.

Among its many uses beyond sports and recreation facilities, air structures are used for warehousing, and temporary shelters.

They are fun structures to be in.

The collapse of the Metrodome might raise new questions about the future of this stadium, a new stadiums or who is going to pay for this but don’t let mother nature end your want or need of air supporterd structures.

They are safe and cost effective structueres and have their place in Architecture and Construction.