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Shade sails complement Dayton library

Awards, Projects | May 14, 2024 | By: Bruce N. Wright, FAIA

Upon approaching the Dayton Metro Library West Branch, viewers notice the building’s soaring rooflines, which echo the historic Wright Company Factory (within view in the background) where the Wright Brothers developed their commercially viable airplanes. One can imagine hearing the sounds from the past with the test fields spread wide behind the library.

Two triangular projecting rooflines rise up suggesting airplane wings. Inserted within the wide overhanging “wings” are brightly colored taut shade sails in reds and oranges, an apt reference to the Wright Brothers’ original canvas-covered airplane that made history at Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1903.

The shade sails are tensioned triangular fabric panels set at a near vertical angle to create shade and act as a windbreak. The panels are spaced closely together and alternate high and low end to end. According to fabricator/installer Signature Structures LLC, “Because of the relatively narrow size of the triangles, the corner details had to be designed to minimize the space required for tensioning and clamping.” Signature Structures devised an efficient method that provides adjustability with a single turnbuckle per panel.

Inside, the library’s main common area features illuminated stretched fabric ceilings and an open marketplace ambience throughout that benefits from natural daylight. The project, designed by local architect LWC Inc., achieved LEED Gold certification.

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