Every year, the best tennis players in the world congregate at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, N.Y., to play and watch the U.S. Open, one of the legendary four Grand Slam tournaments that have made Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic household names. The weather in late August and early September varies considerably, but with matches sometimes lasting for hours in the hot sun, spectators need shade. A stadium makeover is underway, and a stand-alone steel support system for a retractable roof was completed before the 2015 U.S. Open tournament. The retractable roof’s steel supports created irregular shading for players on the court and zero shade benefit for fans in the stands. The steel framing didn’t pose any problems for a trio of well-known names in tensioned fabric architecture who found a fix.
Solar Shade USA LLC, Rich Hill, Mo., engineered and fabricated temporary shades for the 2015 U.S. Open using more than 50,000 square feet of White Comtex® Extra Heavy Duty Knitted Shadecloth from Polyfab USA, Manhattan Beach, Calif. Comtex (as well as Polyfab’s other fabric options for tensioned architecture) is 100 percent recyclable, lead- and phthalate-free, fire-rated knitted HDPE shade fabric ideal for commercial applications. Solar Shade also chose high-performance Dyneema® (“The World’s Strongest Fiber”™) from DSM Dyneema for its tensioning cables. Birdair Inc., Amherst, N.Y., installed the temporary shade structures and will install the permanent retractable roof following this year’s tournament.
So what do the players think of the temporary shading? ESPN writer Peter Bodo repeated some of the rave reviews from players, fans and officials. “We weren’t expecting naysayers, but the degree of positive reaction has been really encouraging,” David Zausner, chief operating officer of the National Tennis Center, told ESPN. “We love that so many players said they liked how the ball sounded and that the stadium already felt more intimate.”