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Outdoor pavilion with indoor feel

Exteriors, Features | September 25, 2014 | By:

All weather, climate-controlled convertible event space for leading golf resort.

In addition to being a PGA Tour tournament site and 36-hole Palm Springs golf resort ranked in the Top 20 “Best Courses You Can Play” in California by Golfweek magazine, Indian Wells Golf Resort is a hosting facility for corporate events, group outings, wedding ceremonies and receptions. To provide guests with accommodations that equal the quality of its links, the resort turned to Kansas City, Mo.-based Structurflex to design and build a climate-controlled outdoor pavilion.

The resort envisioned a fully enclosed and climate-controlled outdoor pavilion for use as a dining, reception and event space. The structure needed to house a complete HVAC system, thermal insulation and lighting for year-round use. The design had to pass the local city council’s strict approval process before fabrication could begin—all on a tight four-month deadline to be ready for the resort’s opening day.

Structurflex had already done impressive work for the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and was given creative freedom by the client to design and build the self-contained event space.

A tight timeline

Structurflex didn’t waste a minute of time. “Immediately upon the general manager of the Indian Wells Golf Resort contacting our office, I began a dialogue to learn as much as I could about the project,” says Bart Dreiling, president of Structurflex’s North and South American Operations. “It was important for us to first understand the owner’s wants and needs, then also to learn about the site. Based on our knowledge of the efficiencies in tensile membrane construction, we promptly developed concepts that were supported with relative pricing, thereby allowing the owner to make decisions in a timely manner. The owner then selected the preferred concept from which we developed renderings that could be presented to the board of directors and the city council.”

The company then assembled a team with a local general contractor and architect they had worked with before to carry the project forward. “As with any fast-track and design-build project, initial communication and coordination with all interested parties was critical,” Dreiling explains. Dreiling put extra emphasis on the planning and communications aspect of the project to make sure all scheduling and delivery wrinkles were ironed out from the beginning.

The pavilion needed to meet very specific needs. Among other requirements, it needed to easily transition from an indoor to an outdoor event space, house an HVAC system, provide views of the surrounding area, and provide thermal insulation. The initial proposal began, however, with just a few photographs and the dimensions of the available area. The project required the company to entirely develop the concept, design the structure, provide detailed construction drawings, fully engineer the steel and membrane foundation, and supply, fabricate and install all of the materials.

The Structurflex team created a design that relies on an outer PVC-PES tension membrane and a light-emitting inner membrane to provide an all-weather convertible event space. “The outer membrane, Serge Ferrari Precontraint 1002 T2, was selected for its quality, visual appeal, durability and warranty,” Dreiling says. “The inner membrane needed to serve the building envelope while providing as much light transmission as possible, while also fitting within the budget constraints. A Hiraoka material was best suited for that element.”

Dreiling and his team presented other material options to the client. Together they settled on the recommended materials based on the project requirements.

Unique challenges

A tight schedule is a challenge for any large project, but the timeline for the Indian Wells PVC Pavilion posed a series of uniquely difficult time-sensitive obstacles. “As with any fast-track project, scheduling of deliveries and on-time installation becomes a challenge,” Dreiling says. “There was little or no room for slip in the schedule, therefore project management attention was of the utmost importance.”

In addition to tight deadlines on his own crew, Dreiling had to coordinate on-time delivery schedules as well, to keep things moving smoothly. In this case it was necessary to utilize air freight in order to meet delivery schedules. Construction coordination was an additional challenge because the steel erection and membrane installation was undertaken simultaneously, along with other finishing and installation work. “The site was very constrained, and access did not allow for conventional cranes or other heavy hoisting equipment,” Dreiling says.

One of things working for Structurflex was its familiarity with the project’s general contracting company. “Our typical scope of work includes design, engineering, supply of membrane and structure and construction. This fit in well with the project because the general contractor, Watkins Landmark Construction, was a company we had already worked with on two other projects,” Dreiling says. “Fitting together as a design-build team with Structurflex and Watkins as the two key players was a very seamless process.”

Finishing touches

The finished pavilion, completed in 2013, is an attractive element of the resort and provides a comfortable environment for up to 700 reception guests or 400 seated guests. Not only was the pavilion completed on time, it also fit within the client’s budget without the need for any design changes.

The new event space has become a destination for Coachella Valley weddings and has hosted trade events for hospitality and event planners. The two-membrane design allows maximization of natural light to create an open and elegant atmosphere throughout the year. The light membrane easily transitions the space to the outdoors year round.

Adding to the structure’s transitional versatility, the front wall of the pavilion is designed to be totally retractable, allowing it to easily convert for both indoor and outdoor events. The remaining three walls are largely glass, offering commanding views of the Santa Rosa Mountains and surrounding area. The resort bills the venue as a premier reception and private events venue in the Coachella Valley.

Jake Kulju is a freelance writer from Minneapolis, Minn.

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