MacDonald Island Park in Fort McMurray, Alberta, is Canada’s largest community recreation, leisure and social center, and its operator, Regional Recreation Corp. of Wood Buffalo, plans to expand its reach. Shell Place, the epicenter of MacDonald Island Park’s activities, includes the SMS Equipment Stadium, Molson Outdoor Rink and Nexen Energy Stage. The Shell Place expansion will include a baseball/softball tournament center, field house, conference center and community park. And if this were not enough, the Northern Lights were added to the party.
One of several astronomical phenomena, The Northern Lights (scientific name Aurora Borealis) are shafts or curtains of undulating colored light visible on occasion in the night sky in northern latitudes. MacDonald Island Park asked tensioned fabric experts at Birdair Inc., Buffalo, N.Y., to design and construct a canopy that resembled the Northern Lights for the Nexen Energy Stage. The complex wave-based structure is made of PTFE (Teflon®) fiberglass membrane, supported by steel struts and lit with colors that mimic the Northern Lights. The 30,000-square-foot canopy, completed in November 2014, has already become a focal point in the Shell Place expansion.
PTFE fiberglass membrane is durable and weather-resistant in climates ranging from the polar north to the blazing desert. Tensioned fabrics can span enormous distances, using less structural steel while retaining dramatic curving forms. The membranes reflect as much as 73 percent of the sun’s energy, while allowing natural daylight to filter through.