By Mason Riddle
The Project: A 12,000 square foot expansion to The St. Louis Science Center in St. Louis, Mo. Designed by PGAV Destinations, the two-story, $9.5 million project opened in the summer of 2011 replacing the Center’s aging air-supported Exploradome. It hosts traveling exhibitions like Body Worlds and Real Pirates, and special events like the annual SciFest and Eco Expo. Featuring a green roof, the expansion was designed to be LEED Certified. Its green roof is the site of outdoor exhibitions, educational programs and social gatherings. The Science Center is an important cultural destination site in the city.
The Company: Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures Inc. The St. Louis company has been in operation since 1941.
The Task: To design large-scale banners for the new expansion’s façade that would create a visually dynamic surface and bring visibility to exhibitions and special events.
The Challenge: To create banners on a large enough scale to animate the wall, be legible from a distance and be changed out with relative simplicity. The banners project out as much as 5 feet from the façade. Due to this significant projection, the banners are engineered for 90 mph winds. During the installation process, the project required significant coordination between the contractors of the building’s steel substructure, Lawrence’s aluminum bracket system, and the exterior façade contractors.
The Solution: Lawrence designed six fabric banners that measure 15 feet high by 28 feet wide each and project from 2 feet to 5 feet from the structure’s wall. The banners are made from UltraMesh® Supreme by Ultraflex Systems Inc. with heavy-duty keder top, an open hem, and with half-inch aluminum flat stock at the bottom and tensioning with turnbuckles. The banners can be changed out in one hour or less.
The Result: The project is a striking example of what can be achieved through using fabric as a design solution. The St. Louis Science Museum was extremely satisfied with the outcome. “We exceeded the client’s expectations and will continue to do business with them in the future,” says Lawrence’s Karen O’Rourke.