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World’s first permanent tensioned fabric structure turns 35

Exteriors | March 1, 2009 | By:

The world’s first permanent tensioned fabric structure remains in good condition 35 years later at the University of La Verne in La Verne, Calif. The tensioned membrane roofing system covers the university structure officially known as the Sports Science and Athletics Pavilion. A state-of-the-art design at the time of construction in 1973, the facility recently underwent an $8 million renovation of the interior. The curved roof design, comprised of four cone-shaped fabric peaks, continues to function as part of the active campus. “We’ve cut samples out periodically over the past 30 years to test the membrane’s durability,” explains David Ricci, director of customer service and warranty with Birdair Inc., the fabricator of the original building. “The fabric’s strength and ability to weather well are reasons the University has no plans to replace it any time soon.” The building is the world’s first fabric structure to use PTFE-coated fiberglass.

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