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Retrofit roof on UFG building

Projects | August 1, 2022 | By:

In 2021, the University of Florida in Gainesville decided to give a facelift to its School of Architecture building on campus, which would include a retrofitted roof to cover the existing open atrium space. The school turned to Birdair Inc., a specialty contractor for custom tensile membrane structures, to create a one-of-a-kind roofing system atop the building’s atrium. The retrofitted roof features Birdair’s TensoSky® ETFE film and overlaps the existing roof. It is an open-air structure allowing airflow and ventilation around the perimeter of the structure. 

The roof’s 5,700-square-foot coverage area features a total of 38 two-layer cushions using transparent ETFE film. The film offers a variety of benefits, including exceptional light transmission, solar control, elasticity, longevity, acoustics and energy efficiency. 

The new roof covers the atrium’s open space and allows students, staff and visitors to use the atrium regardless of weather conditions. The lightweight, flexible nature of ETFE membrane, paired with its aesthetic and design benefits, made it the ideal film to use for the project.

The Birdair construction crew worked 10-hour days, seven days a week during the school’s winter break to install the structural steel’s helical, spiral non-tangent curve design. After installing the structural steel, the team’s next challenge was to install the complete ETFE skylight on the newly erected structural steel frame. The ETFE system is comprised of a self-contained drainage system for condensation and weather protection, all custom-fabricated to match the spiral steel frame.

“It was challenging to install the structural steel with a spiraling ridge and multi-angular purlins while receiving deliveries of structural steel during the winter holiday break,” says James Thomas, director of construction for Birdair. “We’re excited about the result—a brand-new skylight system ready to welcome all who visit the beautiful atrium at the University of Florida School of Architecture.” 


University of Florida School of Architecture building, Gainesville, Fla.


Birdair, Buffalo, N.Y.

Material used


Project Size

5,700 sq.ft.


KMF & Brooks Scarpa


TLC Engineering

Completion Date

February 24, 2022

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