Tensioned fabric panels enhance FBI parking garage using frame and clip technology.
By Kelly Frush
Typical businesses in San Diego’s Sorrento Valley include technology giants such as Qualcomm, Fujitsu, and Texas Instruments. But now there is a new sheriff in town—the FBI.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently moved into a $100 million, six-story building, which accommodates 400 special agents and support staff. The San Diego building is LEED Gold-certified, making it highly energy- and water-efficient.
With the new building came a need for a specific, custom fabric structure over the parking garage to provide shade and sun protection from the hot Southern California sun. CR&A Custom, Los Angeles, Calif., was able to provide that for the FBI, but the project was not an open-and-close case.
To attach the fabric panels to the outer faÃ§ade of the parking garage, CR&A Custom used FACID tension frame and clip technology. The system, along with architectural fabrics, is designed and engineered specifically for fabric architecture applications as an alternative to other forms of cladding. FACID’s extrusion profiles are the foundational framework system to achieve basic fabric panels, shaped panels or a complete building envelope. The clip system is concealed on all sides offering a clean finished edge appearance whether viewing from the outside or inside. It’s designed to hold the fabric taut and smooth—even in high winds— qualities that are essential for the performance and appearance of the fabric.
Masoud Rad, COO at CR&A Custom, explained the most challenging aspect of the fabrication and installation of the project was overcoming the uneven surface of the concrete columns. “Our design was very precise and did not allow tolerances that are normally allowed in the construction industry,” he says. “Extra technique was necessary for attaching the framing system perfectly level to the building.”
Rad and CR&A Custom ensured the framing system was level to the building by customizing the brackets that would attach to the building. “Since we got involved in the project after construction had begun, we had to be very creative and come up with various methods of attachment to the building, almost on an as-needed basis,” Rad says. CR&A designed and fabricated custom attachments to allow them to overcome the porous surface and the uneven facade of the building.
“There are several methods of attachment used in the building, none of which are considered ’standard,’” Rad explains. “Being that the structure is concrete, we had to ensure that our attachments were built with enough flexibility to adjust for the tolerances allowed in the construction industry. We did have enough time to place custom embeds into the concrete before the pour, so we could bolt our attachments back into the columns instead of drilling after the fact. This helped ensure that the brackets would provide enough stability for the rest of the project.”
Ferrari Stamisol 381 was chosen for its durability and ease of fabrication. “The product is well made and easy to work with,” Rad says. “It passed various ignition and drip tests, and it can be welded without losing its drape and lies wrinkle-free even after joining seams.”
With precision and patience, the project came together and produced an excellent result. “I stood on the roof of the building, directly behind the fabric structure with wind gusting upwards of 35 miles (56 kilometers) per hour, while feeling the entire force of the wind on my body, yet neither the fabric nor the structure was moving or flapping in the slightest,” Rad describes. “It was a proud moment for me to know that every part of this project was a success. Not only did we accomplish the intended goal while satisfying all of the engineering, wind load, and structural requirements, we were also able to bring the designer’s vision to life without compromise.”