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8.0 Restaurant features canopy for protection from the elements

Exteriors, Features | January 1, 2012 | By:

This structure in Fort Worth, Texas is an outdoor, open-air covering for a well-known restaurant and live music venue. It provides protection from rain, snow and sun while allowing the radiation of UV rays that are required to sustain plant growth. Because ETFE is generally UV transparent (allows almost 100 percent UV transmission) it was an excellent choice when considered the sustainability of the plant life below.

The canopy was designed and developed to provide protection from rain and snow, some shading and generally define the space as an entertainment venue. The venue hosts concerts 3–4 times per week during the spring and summer months and is an outdoor dining area for most of the year, depending on outside temperature. The landlord and tenant were experiencing far too many “rain-outs” each year and therefore would lose a significant amount of revenue each time. The client required that the structure have high degree of translucency as well as reflectivity in order to achieve dramatic nighttime lighting effects through the incorporation of a sophisticated LED light system. The most important aspect was to preserve the mature trees on site. The original concept called for a glass roof, however it greatly exceeded the project’s budget. A conventional steel canopy would not work as it would not allow for the transmission of the proper UV rays that sustain plant growth.

An ETFE membrane was the obvious choice of materials. Structurflex LLC proposed a turnkey approach and designed and engineered the project, fabricated the membrane and structure and served as construction manager of the canopy.

The membrane has a silver fritted dot print to provide shading. The fritting pattern is also important to achieve nighttime lighting affects through the LED lighting system that covers the entire color spectrum. This allows for the canopy to constantly change its color throughout an evening, providing a lively and dynamic feel. It was also important to maintain enough transparency to see the sky and buildings beyond so that the feeling of being in the urban core was not lost. The silver dot print provides approximately 70% translucency and achieves all of the aforementioned design criteria. Sustaining the existing trees below was absolutely critical to the owner. The overlapping arches at the apex allow for air movement but do not trap warm air at the peak. Stack venting and warm air transfer can be felt on warm, calm days and evenings. No trees were cut down in order to install the canopy; columns and support struts were strategically located and designed in consideration of the location of the trees.

The single layer ETFE membrane system and structure has become a Fort Worth landmark that defines a very familiar gathering point for locals and visitors. Architecturally, it fits very well into the context of the Fort Worth urban core. Most importantly, it sustains the vegetation while providing protection from the elements. The structure truly defines the space as an entertainment venue, particularly at night when bathed by the vibrant LED lighting.

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