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Fabric shades enliven restaurant patio

Exteriors, Features | July 1, 2008 | By:

Adding a string of undulating fabric shades enlivens, and makes bearable, a champion restaurant patio.

Mojito’s Café is part of the United States Tennis Association’s National Tennis Center at Flushing Meadow Park, New York. In fact, it’s attached to the Arthur Ashe Stadium on the complex’s grounds and opens for business but once a year during the two weeks for the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament matches held in August and September. Architect Frederick Brush designed a set of nine potato chip-like shade structures that undulate across the south façade of the restaurant in a flowing, overlapping tumble of pipe and fabric to shade the restaurant’s patio.

As part of their brief to construct the curvaceous forms, Capitol Awning Co. received a cardboard scale model of the shade structures by the architect as the only reference. No architect’s plans, no as-built measured drawings. “I literally measured the model,” says Clark Paolini, project manager for Capitol on this job. “I probably took 40 or so hours measuring the model and entering that data into a computer. We used these measurements to create a 3D CAD model to aid in fabricating the full size fabric panels of the structure.” Paolini also measured the building to make sure the design would fit reality.

The 3D model was invaluable in creating the panels, some of which had as many as 11 different compound curves. The lace on fabric was custom cut rib-by-rib and sewn to fit each frame.

Overall appearance of the project, with its rhythmic shade elements and a forest of stylized PVC palm trees, fits perfectly with the restaurant’s festive theme.

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