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Mesh fabric creates dramatic building façade

Exteriors, Features | May 1, 2009 | By:

A curtain-like canopy on this Tacoma apartment building adds a theatrical touch to the entry.

Hanna Heights is a 35-unit, eight story multifamily apartment building located in a trendy section of Tacoma, Washington, just five short blocks from the Thea Foss Waterway that reaches deep into downtown like a narrow, watery finger. This is a part of Tacoma that, until the recent real estate slump, was one of the hottest development strips in the Pacific Northwest. Hanna Heights is adjacent to the historic 1927 Walker Apartment Hotel, across the street from the Grand Cinema and a short walk from the northern end of Tacoma’s new LINK light rail system. At the southern end of the waterway are the Museum of Glass and the Chihuly Bridge of Glass.

Given its historical setting, it makes sense that a theater style “curtain” of mesh fabric drapes dramatically across the front façade of the Hanna Heights, soaring up four stories above the entrance marquee where it begins.

The building floorplate is designed to allow natural light to penetrate deep into each unit’s living spaces. Units range from one bedroom to three-bedroom in size and are completely rented, a testament to the building’s popularity even in a renter’s market.

Design of the curtain was motivated by the local arts commission percent for arts program. As the building is located near the art-house movie theater Grand Cinema, the concept took its cue from theater stage curtains. Mesh fabric is stretched to stainless steel framing at the bottom and top edges and left to drape in between. The side edges are secured with steel cabling within a welded pocket sleeve the length of the gently curving form and tightened with turnbuckles. Strength of the cables and anchors was calculated for the average local winds plus a safety factor.

This column facilitated by the Lightweight Structures Association. The purpose of LSA is to promote the use and growth of lightweight structures and to represent the interests and concerns of the lightweight structures industry in the Americas.

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