Renovation of a seaside resort included custom awnings, shades and canopies for an elegant finish.
By Maura Keller
Situated on the bluffs of Watch Hill, R.I., overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Ocean House is an iconic New England seaside resort. Because of its location amidst sand, sea and wind, Ocean House turned to New Haven Awning Company to create durably elegant awning structures that corresponded to its unique locale.
Since the beginning of their initial partnership with New Haven Awning, New Haven, Conn., more than four years ago, Ocean House has completed a large renovation of its facility. As part of this renovation, New Haven Awning provided a number of custom-printed awning projects, including covers for two large retractable awnings, a patio bar cover, drop shades, roof coverings for an outdoor bathhouse and a beachside restaurant patio canopy.
“Essentially we were looking for shade over two of our most popular seasonal dining areas, the ability to retract them when not needed, and the ability to easily remove, clean and store them during the winter season, all of which have worked extremely well,” says Daniel Hostettler, president and managing director of Ocean House. “From a design perspective we wanted to have stripes [on the awnings] to be reminiscent of those on older New England buildings, and we wanted them in a custom color that matched our graphic identity.”
Design specific solutions
The award-winning seaside resort boasts a wealth of accommodations and dining options within its boundaries, including Dune Cottage, a shaded pergola area for casual dining. Perched above Ocean House’s private beach, Dune Cottage needed awnings that spoke to the resort’s design aesthetic, while offering a functional canopy for guests.
“On Dune Cottage we wanted a metal frame structure extending ten feet on all sides of a four-sided building so it would mimic the 12-foot-by-12- foot square of the building,” Hostettler says. “On the hotel itself we wanted electric extending awnings that could be deployed as needed during the summer season.”
In order to meld the awning and canopy designs with Ocean House’s brand identity, Hostettler provided New Haven and fabric manufacturer Herculite Inc., York, Pa., with the PMS color of the resort’s brand identity.
“As a result, the companies provided awning samples in that color with printed stripes of varying dimensions,” he says. “Along with the architect, we picked the width of the strips from the samples provided by hanging them on the building and looking at them both up close and from a distance to ensure that the scale worked with the scale of the building. Then the actual awnings were fabricated.”
As Daniel Barnick, co-owner of New Haven Awning, explains, “a variety of fabrics had been considered based on the specifics of each application with color retention, water repellency and crazing as the primary deciding factors. Ocean House wanted a clean, high-end looking finished product that complemented their beach environment.”
Mike Gatti, general manager, Weblon Products, Herculite Inc., adds that “the Ocean House project required the look of a traditional canvas or cloth awning with a bright and durable stripe. In addition, the fabric was to be flame retardant and waterproof, so Ocean House customers can enjoy protection against harsh sun and rain.”
Herculite often works with its customers, including awning fabricators and designers, to provide the best fabric solution for the customer’s desired appearance and performance. As such, Herculite Natura™ awning fabric was suggested for its cloth-like appearance and its lining. Natura’s unique surface texture and innovative PVC/polyester core construction could be fabricated with welded seams to provide a waterproof dining area.
Additionally, as a three-season canopy for Dune Cottage, the cover was installed in the spring and removed in the fall, so a fabric that can take the constant season handling was required.
So how did the New Haven and Herculite teams determine the best fabric needed for the canopy design? Quite simply, they looked at the fabric and printing process that had been used before. For instance, the prior canopy had an acrylic cover on which the printing was completed with New Haven Awning’s Mimaki CJV30-160 printer using ES3 eco-solve inks. The print side of the prior canopy’s cover was coated with Clear Jet solvent-based laminate.
“Using this material and top coat we found an excessive amount of mildew had set into the underside of that cover and could not be washed out,” Barnick says. New Haven Awning and Ocean House chose Herculite’s Natura Digital white because it gave the appearance of a traditional acrylic material but provided the water and mildew resistance of a vinyl product.
“Dan Barnick explained his vision of a printed stripe fabric using our Natura fabric,” Gatti says. “The fabric had to be strong and durable to withstand the waterfront environment and accept digital printed inks for a crisp traditional cloth appearance.” Herculite provided sample yardage for design prototypes and to optimize ink profiles. This streamlined the digital print process when the final project was approved.
With Herculite’s assistance, New Haven chose to switch top coats to Clear Star Type C laminate, which is rolled onto the cover after fabrication is completed.
The final product
As Barnick explains, the new canopies feature a frame built out of 1-by-1 and 1-by-2 Gatorshield, with a white high-gloss electrostatic paint—specifically, Dupont Imron® with hardener.
“Because canopies are seasonal and are not carrying a snow load, we did not need to truss any rafters,” he says. Due to hurricane-force winds that can bear down on the region, all sections of the canopy frame are welded with additional bracing members for wind loads and are designed to handle 125 mph winds, with three-second gusts. As Barnick explains, rafter and lacing pockets were added to cut down on the vibration of the cover and to avoid wearing on the frame.
The beach-side canopy wraps around the entire restaurant—approximately 200 linear feet. In addition to the Dune Cottage canopy, the hotel patio awning wraps a six-side walkup bar, requiring an additional 80 linear feet of material. Not surprising, the primary challenges of the project were all based around printing; more than 200 yards of fabric were printed on New Haven Awning’s Mimaki printer.
“Digitally printing on Natura has been done throughout the country for logo prints and custom designs; however, printing digitally uniform stripes for the entire project was the first of its kind,” Gatti says. “It required excellent and consistent printable surface quality throughout all of the material and an accurate print registration.”
According to Barnick, the machine time to print this project was 85 hours, or three-and-a-half complete days. The New Haven team paid close attention to keeping a consistent stripe color and spacing—moving from fabric roll to fabric roll.
“The result was a vivid custom printed stripe awning that is aesthetically designed for the waterfront property,” Gatti says. “This outdoor canopy allows people the ability to dine beachside while overlooking Block Island Sound.”
In the end, the project was completed on time and on budget. “We were very pleased,” Hostettler says. “And we are subsequently working with the companies—New Haven and Herculite—to create additional retractable awnings on some of our signature suite terraces.”