By Janice Kleinschmidt
At one time, fabric—when it came to structures, anyway—amounted to little more than window dressing. With the advent of stronger, more durable textiles and advanced chemistry and manufacturing processes, fabric became a building material—one whose fluidity appeals to design aesthetics in ways that wood, steel and concrete can’t.
But the integrity of a structure lies in its ability to withstand load and create a safe environment regardless of the nature of its components. That creates the need for fabric applications to meet codes—and, in turn, the need for engineers to “stamp” drawings attesting to their worthiness.
An engineer does not have to be local to a project as long as he or she is licensed in the locality or state/province (or the locality or state/province accepts a stamp outside its jurisdiction). That’s one reason industrial fabrics companies hire consulting engineers.
“People may have a good understanding of a structure and building,” says New York consulting architect Nicholas Goldsmith, “but it has to be stamped by an engineer licensed to do so in that particular state. It has to meet codes they may not be familiar with, even if they have a good construction background.