Tensile fabric canopies form partial tunnels to protect from the elements
To connect the city parks along the Hillsborough River, the city of Tampa, Fla., wanted an iconic centerpiece that would attract joggers, bikers and visitors to the area when designing its Riverwalk project.
Span Systems Inc., Manchester, N.H., was tasked with bringing the design to life—six tensile fabric canopies and partial tunnels in various configurations at intervals along the wide pedestrian walkway built out into the river.
Designed to provide shade areas for pedestrians to rest and enjoy the view, the structures were to be comprised of a series of large steel hoops encircling the entire walkway and mounting on its underside. The biggest challenge was engineering and installing the parallel hoop structures, which wrapped completely around the entire boardwalk structure. There were also complex lighting and electrical requirements, which evolved throughout the course of the design process to allow the visual impact of the structures to become more evident at night.
Spanning 5,060 square feet, the Riverwalk opened in March 2015. Span Systems won the Outstanding Achievement Award in the “Tensile Structures” category of IFAI’s 2015 International Achievement Awards for its work on the project.
Katherine Carlson is a freelance writer and editor from St. Paul, Minn.