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A sculptural fabric roof for a high-end mall in Mexico

June 1, 2017

A sculptural fabric roof complements the expansion of a high-end mall. Cuernavaca is the capital of Mexico’s Morelos state, located in the lush Tepozteco Mountains just south of and bordering Mexico City. With a warm, stable climate that ranges year-round from 20–30 degrees C (68–86 degrees F), it has legitimate claim to “City of the …

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Living off the land

May 1, 2017

Ohana Yurts encourages sustainable living, one yurt at a time. To Jenny and Nathan Toler, a yurt is more than a temporary shelter or even a permanent home; it’s a way to reconnect with the earth. “It’s living in the environment as opposed to being protected from it,” explains Nathan, who owns Haleiwa, Hawaii-based Ohana …

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Green glamping

February 17, 2017

Eco-friendly glamping structures designed to keep Mother Nature smiling. Glamping brings together the best of two worlds—all the splendor Mother Nature has to offer in posh, elegant accommodations. As if that weren’t enough, glamping structures are usually designed with fabrics that blend into the surroundings that leave less of a footprint to challenge the environment. …

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Inflation rates

February 1, 2017

Blow-up shapes and structures make a valuable medium for edgy and interactive art. When Los Angeles based artist Paul McCarthy installed two works in Munich’s Haus der Kunst, the widely known provocateur hired a company that specializes in inflatables for branding to create a flowerpot of geraniums to cover the museum’s roofline. The blow-up vinyl-coated …

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Flying the “Paper Airplane”

January 1, 2017

Canvas Specialty, Inc. works through challenges to create a shade structure that is also art. The simplicity of the paper airplane has made it a popular toy for generations of kids (and adults), even in this age of high-tech entertainment. But while the shade structure installed recently in Los Angeles’ Grand Park was designed to resemble …

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Beyond branding

November 29, 2016

Inflatables manufacturers find diverse markets in addition to promotional products. To attract the attention of drivers, car dealerships float spheres or other shapes with automakers’ logos. People dressed in inflatable costumes that identify them as brand mascots line festival walkways to interact with attendees. Giant replicas of consumer goods—whether it’s a can of beer or …

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Fear of flying?

Companies that make air- and helium-filled products weigh the risks. When Pink Floyd’s trademark helium pig got too high at a Coachella concert in 2008 and drifted away, no one got hurt—even though the pink inflatable was, as the Associated Press reported, “as tall as a two-story house and as wide as two school buses.” …

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Crossing over, down under

November 1, 2016

A fabric-clad pedestrian bridge is poised to become a landmark entry point to Western Australia’s in-the-works sports stadium. Australian football fans ready to cheer on the 2018 Australian Football League season will travel from all across the country to attend the highly anticipated opening of the new Perth Stadium and Sports Precinct located on Western …

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Enhancing the “legitimacy” of portable structures

September 16, 2016

The concept of a portable structure seems contrary to normal expectations. A building, after all, should be grounded with a solid footing and not move! Nevertheless, Aaron Betsky, architecture critic, curator and the dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, Scottsdale, Ariz., argued in a recent online opinion piece that temporary structures should …

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Faith in the details

September 6, 2016

When it comes to specifying hardware for shade structures, fabricators and clients can rely on the wisdom of “sweating the details.” “Ideally, the fabricator and architect should be working together from the schematic phase,” says Erik Jarvie, PE, sales engineer with Tension Structures, a division of Eide Industries Inc., Cerritos, Calif.  “The knowledge of a …

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A steel-framed fabric building shelters, protects and stores

September 1, 2016

With the global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, agriculture must overcome myriad demands required to feed so many people. A mineral known as potash provides a critical piece in solving this puzzle. Created during the evaporation of ancient seabeds, potash is most widely used as potassium fertilizer. “Potassium is one of the …

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Sheltering safety standards

August 1, 2016

Rain or shine, fabric roofing structure allows a crash test facility to continue research year-round. Earlier this year, the National Safety Council estimated motor vehicle deaths to be 8 percent higher in 2015 than they were in 2014—the largest year-over-year percentage increase in 50 years. While a multitude of factors contribute to vehicle crashes, safety …

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Getting the word out about fabric graphics

Fabric graphics have become a marketing and branding essential. As they go outside to play, the medium is definitely part of the message. Fabric graphics are a perfect vehicle for our branding-obsessed culture, providing the ability to transmit messages in fun, colorful, impactful and attention-getting ways. Fabrics and fabric graphics are at home everywhere indoors, …

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Adding lighting to outdoor attractions

July 21, 2016

To make outdoor fabric structures and displays stand out, integrated lighting systems are setting new standards. No matter what the fabric structure or whether it’s installed outdoors or inside, illumination adds the finishing touch, transforming the extraordinary into something even more unforgettable and making an ordinary tent or display much more memorable. Lighting invites people …

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Soaking up the sun

May 1, 2016

Solar-powered Techstyle Haus demonstrates the aesthetic and functional benefits of state-of-the-art fabric architecture. When the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe issued a call for attractive, energy-efficient homes powered by the sun, one team of design students tapped the potential of fabric architecture. The competition submission, known as Techstyle Haus, brought together 50 students from Rhode Island …

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Finding shelter in fabric

Alaska Structures® Inc. recently completed a contract for 365 new and improved U.S. Air Force Medium Shelter Systems. The United States Air Force (USAF) is no slouch when it comes to providing quality equipment, supplies and shelter for its ranks. The military branch recently invested more than $15 million in a Medium Weight Shelter Systems …

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Ideas in harness

April 1, 2016

Michael Lester doesn’t shy away from a challenge. He builds a team of fellow innovators and comes up with tensioned fabric solutions. “We’re always innovating,” says Michael Lester, managing director of MakMax Australia Pty. Ltd. in Brisbane, Australia, a world-renowned company building custom membrane structures and manufacturing a range of shade products. “We’ve always got …

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Tropical canopies

Climate and sustainability goals dictate the choice of ETFE membrane structures for the U.S. Embassy in Laos. In the capital city of Vientiane, Laos, the U.S. Embassy complex recently underwent major rebuilding and a thorough sustainability assessment. The outcome of this multi-year process produced some of the most energy-efficient, sustainable facilities to date for the …

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Start to finish

February 15, 2016

Fabric structure companies with metal shops make material decisions based on multiple factors. Site conditions, local building codes, aspects of design and customer preferences dictate the type of metal used with fabric structures, says Gerald Thompson, CEO of Awnings of Hollywood. His company works with high-strength steel pipe and tubing, aluminum pipe and tubing, and …

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Domes of discovery

December 1, 2015

Detectors at the HAWC Gamma Ray Observatory are protected by custom domes made of military grade fabric. We have learned a lot about the universe by looking out from our planet. Scientists are discovering much can be learned about outer space by looking at our immediate surroundings as well. One of the most effective ways …

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Reaching for the stars

November 1, 2015

Tectoniks pioneers inflatable technology in developing high-value asset protection for Lockheed Martin U.K. To help provide environmental protection to its high-value assets, aerospace and defense contractor Lockheed Martin U.K. needed a robust, portable and retractable structure that met specific and rigorous functional and technical requirements—and everything had to be accomplished in a compressed timeframe. After …

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Protecting those who serve

A fabric cover at an army heliport shields against the Arizona sun. The Silverbell Army Heliport, located near Marana, Ariz., about 30 miles northwest of Tucson, is a training site for the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA). There, aviation training is conducted using several different types of helicopters, which are stored and …

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Powering up

September 1, 2015

The demand for inflatables used for shelters, rescue and training is strong and growing, as new applications for a well-known but developing technology attract more attention worldwide. Air is a powerful force. Properly harnessed, it can be completely transformed, becoming an integral player in products that serve all manner of purposes, from strictly fun to …

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Fabric meets frac sand

A fast-growing industry relies on fabric architecture for a long-term, large-format storage facility. Wind and sand are like oil and water; they don’t mix. When Source Energy Services (SES), Eau Claire, Wis., enlisted the assistance of Legacy Building Solutions Inc., South Haven, Minn., to build the largest regional frac sand storage facility in Alberta, Canada, …

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A healthy living

Inflatable products need not be oversized to have a big impact; small can be mighty, especially when it comes to inflatables designed to provide relief on an individual basis, such as those popping up in wellness centers, hospitals, nursing homes and even on clothing racks and in closets. Here’s a quick overview of three companies …

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Air support

July 1, 2015

Advances in materials and technology mean advantages for air-supported fabric structures in durability and sustainability. In May 2009, the Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility collapsed under a freak microburst of 60mph winds, injuring a dozen people and leaving at least one person partially paralyzed. It has taken the industry years to overcome the impact of this …

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Beyond the competition

Patty and Charly Smail build their business by learning from each new customer—and finding gaps in what the competition offers. We’ve always been service-oriented people. That’s our style,” says Patty Smail, president of Shelter Structures Inc. in Philadelphia, Pa. “We wanted to find markets where they valued quality over price and where we could provide …

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5 top reasons for using an air-supported structure

Many of the manufacturers interviewed for the air-supported structure feature in the July issue used similar arguments when pitching to clients on the benefits of air-supported structures. The top five: 1. Quick to erect. Air-supported fabric structures are significantly faster to erect than traditional “brick-and-mortar” structures. They do not require permanent foundations and generally need minimal …

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Lessons in community, ecology

June 1, 2015

The Longbush Ecosanctuary protects native plants, birds and wildlife in a rare lowland bush near Gisbourne, on New Zealand’s eastern coast. Longbush Ecological Trust wanted an inviting environmental education space to serve as a symbolic gateway to the 296-acre sanctuary and commissioned architect Sarosh Mulla to design and build the shelter. Mulla, whose doctoral research …

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Transformed by textiles

Two case studies highlight the use of fabric to renovate and convert stadium spaces. By Jake Kulju Cities are full of movement and change. Parks, public spaces and businesses all reflect the shifting tastes and trends of their urban neighborhoods. To adapt, many urban planners, business owners and architects are incorporating industrial fabrics into their …

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Air support

May 21, 2015

New aircraft hangars join fleet of refurbished Rubb buildings at Lithuanian air base. Rubb Buildings Ltd., headquartered at the Team Valley Trading Estate in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, Newcastle, recently flew in to support the Lithuanian Air Force when some new flight line aircraft hangars were needed. The Lithuanian Air Force ordered three new 20.4m …

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Transforming urban areas with fabric

May 18, 2015

Cities are pouring money into urban revitalization in an attempt to restore downtowns to their former vibrant glory, and many of those renewal designs are featuring shade structures, awnings and exterior shades, fused with the best of historic architecture. And in addition to providing shade and shelter from the elements, they also act as important …

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Canopy sheds Northern Lights on events

May 1, 2015

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 …

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Industrial mesh lightens up

Industrial product design often centers on utility, simplicity and mass-production rather than flow, drape or mood. London-based industrial and product designer Catherine Stolarski combines both aesthetics in “Loop,” a pendant lamp with a curving shade made of a single folded piece of 3-D fabric mesh material. The look is soft, a cross between a pillow …

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Building with textiles

April 1, 2015

A report from the TextielMuseum exhibition: the current and future potential of textiles in architecture. The use of textiles in buildings is by no means new, with early examples of dwellings made using branches and animal furs…

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Beam it to me

January 1, 2015

A vanguard fabric airbeam supporting a tent atop Carnegie Hall is poised to expand markets. It takes a village to raise a child. And it takes a team to raise a tent—at least in the case of a challenging, vanguard installation atop a nine-story building in the center of Manhattan. Carnegie Hall, the renowned music …

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The art (and science) of being flexible

December 1, 2014

Some of the most innovative new materials for architectural applications are found in flexible composites: 1+1=3 Buildings are supposed to stand up strong and—believe it or not—be both flexible and durable. Despite impressions to the contrary, even buildings made of steel and concrete must be flexible to resist cracking and ultimately falling apart. The length …

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Birdair lands Arthur Ashe Stadium contract

July 10, 2014

Retractable roof to be installed by 2016. Birdair Inc. was selected by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and architectural design and planning firm Rossetti to supply a 210,000-square-foot, PTFE membrane, retractable roof for the Arthur Ashe Stadium, with expected installation by 2016. The roof is part of a five-year transformation of the USTA Billie …

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A clean sweep in fabric

July 1, 2014

Gambling is a game of chance, and when the Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway in New York planned a $50 million expansion, project managers bet on a knock-your-socks-off entryway design to invite and excite the playing customer. Studio V Architecture PLLC, New York, developed a sweeping transparent tensioned fabric porte-cochere sculptured to emerge organically …

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Economies of scope

June 1, 2014

Fabric structures designed for storage, warehousing and shelter can be as durable as brick-and-mortar structures, and far more flexible. With the construction of fabric structures consistently meeting (and often exceeding) stringent building codes, you’d think that more clients would opt for one of these highly engineered and efficient fabric-clad buildings. With clearspan or air-supported fabric …

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Powered retractable roofs for boats

January 1, 2014

Boat builders and buyers want convenience on a vessel in which both invest time and money, and automated power roofs are becoming a must-have. Taylor Made Systems, Gloversville, N.Y. and its partner company, Ameritex Fabric Systems, Bradenton, Fla., have the boating industry covered, literally, with a new range of glass and canvas power sunroof systems …

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Vinyl matters

What fabric manufacturers know about PVC fabrics that you should know, too. Many businesses in the industrial fabrics industry (Seaman Corp. among them) have shown consistent growth over decades by developing cost-effective, high-performance products that utilize vinyl—a polymer used safely and successfully in a range of applications. Today, the vinyl industry represents $54 billion of …

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Let’s play Charades

A lightweight, airy and colorful group of furniture pieces called “Charade” is the end result of research by Gomar, a French designer based in The Netherlands, about nomadism within a restricted environment. Using regular metal tubes for their structures, combined with sailcloth and kite textiles, the two lamps, a table and a stool create a …

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Quality shedding: year-round farmer’s market

December 1, 2013

The Central New York Regional Market Authority (CNYRMA) in Syracuse, N.Y., has a diverse and thriving farmer’s market that’s a year-round destination: the Regional Market Commons is “a safe and trusted community landmark, providing economic, social and nutritional value to the area.” When CNYRMA sought a new multipurpose facility to house additional vendors, challenging conditions …

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The Souk Okaz

Tensile membrane design recalls rich cultural history. Located in the Mecca Province, on the slopes of the Sarawat Mountains in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, lies the city of Taif. With fresh mountain air and beautiful scenery, the city of 500,000 is a popular getaway from the intense heat in the region. For hundreds of …

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Water control and conservation

November 1, 2013

By Sigrid Tornquist Harvesting rainwater is nothing new—but using fabric shade structures to collect and distribute rainwater, while providing an attractive aesthetic, is largely an untapped resource that can translate into growth potential for fabricators. Architen Landrell, Chepstow, Monmouthshire, U.K., manufactures a structure that is essentially the opposite of an umbrella. The Inverted Cone acts …

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Urban renewal

City officials are choosing fabric structures as part of revitalization programs that energize struggling urban neighborhoods—to spruce up degraded spaces, provide shelter and act as inspirational focal points. “We get a lot of requests from architects for urban renewal projects,” says Architen Landrell’s Jason Smith. “Tensile structures are brilliant for urban renewal because you can …

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Comfort, inside and out

For just this once—think inside the box. Shade structures can be installed inside—managing comfort, while enhancing decor. An emerging market in the United Kingdom may again be paving the way for other parts of the world. “About four years ago we began designing internal tensile structures in the domestic [residential] market,” says tensARC Ltd.’s Dr. …

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Design and branding

Awnings have long been an effective way to brand a business, but other kinds of shade structures are emerging as an additional option, especially when organizations understand that branding isn’t only about company colors and logos. Shade structures can be a creative option to communicate branding as a message of a company’s (or a city’s) …

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Energy efficiency and sustainability

Is more heat in a home or office a good thing? It depends on the season, of course. As more people turn to solar and geothermal systems to heat and cool their homes and places of business, ambient heat gain can be a challenge—one that can, to some extent, be addressed by well-designed shade structures.Duvall …