On the water: redevelopment in fabric

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The City of Owensboro, Ohio, has been developing its riverfront over the past 10 years, making it a cultural hub for tourism. At the end of the walkway to the river is an overlook area featuring a landmark fan-shaped tensile fabric structure. Integrated atop a stage area, the dynamic structure was designed as a performance shelter and has become one of the highlights of the riverfront redevelopment.

The tensile fabric structure, with its heavy steel framework and uplifting canopy of Type 2 PVC, was installed just on the edge of the river. To do this, Fabric Architecture Ltd.’s specialist in-house technical team engineered part of the river wall to support the structure. In addition to overcoming these engineering challenges, getting the design right was crucial; the process involved several iterations, ensuring that the structure complemented the bridge in the background. Achieving the harmonious balance between design and engineering is a hallmark of U.K.-based Fabric Architecture Ltd., according to the company: how to realize an architect’s vision with fabric.

Working in coordination with the architect, EDSA, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., the resulting design is a barrel-vaulted canopy measuring 52 feet by 28 feet. The custom cantilevered canopy soars 33 feet above the edge of the river, supported by five steel masts, providing free-span space for summer concerts and activities and a focal point for Owensboro’s riverfront.


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