Connecting a tent to a building poses a set of challenges for tent installers. Stability, weatherproofing, auxiliary HVAC systems and custom flooring all need to be accounted for. These projects almost always require customized solutions that take the unique environment of the building and the tent site into consideration.
One of the biggest considerations is whether it is possible to safely connect a tent to a building. “In a perfect world,” says Dan Chase of Chase Canopy Co., Mattapoisett, Mass, “the back of a building [would be] completely flat for a height high enough to put a walkway marquee type tent with a flat gable end directly against the building. You [wouldn’t] have any obstructions, so you can rest the frame right on building. You now have a very small surface area where water can get in.”
It is a rare project that has the perfect conditions, however. As capable as most tent installation crews are, not every request to connect a tent to a building is feasible. “In many cases, we just can’t attach them,” says Robert Traina, president of Peterson Party Center Inc., Woburn, Mass. “It’s hard to say no, but sometimes we just can’t do it. It can get expensive.”
Traina explains that there are more limitations to a tent-to-building project than with a traditional tent setup. “We don’t have the myriad choices for placement, tent type and anchoring that we normally would,” he says. “In many cases, we aren’t able to actually physically connect the tent to a building, either because we can’t gain permission from the building owner or because it just isn’t physically feasible.”
When it is possible, installers need to make a close examination of the jobsite to determine the kind of custom connections the project will require. Chase has used weather stripping to “glue” the open end of a tent to the side of a building, and has created customized entry surrounds that segue between the end of a tent and the wall of a building. “It is an artificial frame that segues between the tent and building and is the same height as the eave of the tent,” he says.
Creating a tight seal between a tent and a building is important both to keep the weather out and to keep interior atmosphere in. “Even if you are able to stand the tent against the house, there will still be a gap where air can come in,” Chase says. Heating and cooling solutions may also require custom sidewalls and flooring that have built-in ductwork and auxiliary power supply. “You don’t want to overload the building’s system,” Traina says.
While tent-to-building connections require many unique customizations, they all have one thing in common: freestanding frame-style tents. Chase explains that rope and pole tents just don’t work. The amount of force required to anchor a tent can be in the thousands of pounds. “Trying to attach a pole-style tent to a building is problematic,” he says. “[They] require staking uniformly all around to give the tent shape and structure. You’re removing some of that when you put it next to a building.”
Jake Kulju is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis, Minn.