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Canopy extends outdoor use at Miami restaurant

Exteriors, Features | March 1, 2009 | By:

Adding a sculptural canopy in front of a restaurant extends outdoor use at this Miami hot spot.

The gentle salty breezes at the Bayside Marketplace in Miami, Florida, attract shoppers, diners and curiosity seekers to this up scale outdoor shopping mall flanking the bay. To control the occasional gusts that upset hats, umbrellas and hairdos at the Tradewinds Bar & Grill, as well as provide shelter from rain, the restaurant contacted Awnings of Hollywood, a Miami fabricator, to value engineer a six-sail tension structure proposed by the restaurant’s original architect. The scaled down alternate — including the originally-proposed LED lighting and fiber optics — nicely captures the festive mood of the setting in a gull-winged canopy that delicately touches down between tables at several points, leaving the view of the bay unobstructed.

The challenge of engineering and fabricating the canopy proved greater than first anticipated, with coastal high wind load requirements and tight site constrictions adding additional engineering and fabricating demands.

Awnings of Hollywood anticipated all the problems of the restaurant client, mall management and city code officials before starting construction. “It was a major deal to design the proper footings and foundations for the canopy,” says Christopher Thompson of Awnings of Hollywood, “as the canopy is only 9m from the seawall and the water table only 2.7m down and bedrock at the same level. And the site is not level but 0.9m higher at one end.” The 26m long by 2.5m-wide site was tight as well, forcing the construction to be done with small lifts and manual cranes instead of the usual power equipment of standard jobs.

The design works well, adjusting for all the quirks of the site in subtle ways. For instance, what little rain that falls is drained away from the dining area by a nearly invisible central trough that fits neatly between the two halves of the gull wings, one wing shifted above the other by 15cm. The gap between the two curved wings also funnels air nicely down to the tables below helping to keep the ambient air cool even in Miami’s hot season.

The delicate structure also needed to support ceiling fans and the aforementioned lighting, as well as be pleasing to the eye from the higher vantage point of the multilevel shopping mall. The result of all this extraordinary effort is both pleasing and functional.

Samuel J. Armijos, AIA, is vice president of FabriTec Structures, a division of USA Shade & Fabric Structures, Inc., and a regular contributor to Fabric Architecture magazine. His book “Fabric Architecture: Creative Resources for Shade, Signage, and Shelter,” was published by W. W. Norton in 2008.

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