Outdoor entertainment and shopping spaces are popular in temperate climates for good reason. Everyone loves outdoor settings to listen to music, window shop and eat in open-air environments. Under the sometimes-sweltering California sun, however, open-air facilities need shaded areas for UV protection. Former IFAI Award of Excellence winner Jim Miller, of Jim Miller Canvas Inc., Santa Ana, Calif., has scored another win with a streetscape shading project at the Spectrum Paseo facility in Irvine, Calif.
The project consists of nine areas covered with multi-piece fabric shade panels. The panels span across two buildings, connected to pipe frames with stainless steel cables. “Part of the design request was to create a distinct shadow pattern on the ground and wall of the walkway,” Miller says.
The pattern created by this award-winning project required specialty fabrics and architectural design that worked with the qualities of those fabrics. Miller and his client settled on using Soltis® 92 and Soltis® 86 fabrics from Serge Ferrari, La Tour Du Pin, France, and Firesist Sunbrella®, manufactured by Glen Raven, Inc. of Glen Raven, N.C. “The Soltis 86 and Soltis 92 have performed very well for our projects over the years,” says Miller. “By using [the three fabrics], we were able to change the density of the shadow effect. We worked with the architect and gave them the options available based on our experience. Open mesh vinyl was an obvious choice.”
Thermal and mechanical performance were key components of the shade project. Glen Raven’s composite screen Soltis 92 and open weave Soltis 86 fabrics are specially designed and manufactured for shielding heat, creating dimensional stability and providing robust solar protection. The fabrics were valued in this project for their combination of glare-free visibility and UV resistance: the different levels of opacity between the fabrics provided textured light in the venue. The addition of Sunbrella’s Firesist fabric added to the color scheme and provided a solution-dyed fabric with high resistance to weathering and color loss from UV exposure.
“The [color palette] was the architect’s and owner’s choice,” says Miller. “They were looking for natural tones in the beige range.”
The series of panels required a design that accommodated a dynamic and unconventionally shaped outdoor space. “All of the fabric panels were drawn on the computer to be sure the pattern would match where each panel came together,” says Miller. “This was not easy since some of the walkways were curving. Once this was done, all of the pieces were deconstructed, seam allowances added, then each color was cut on our automated cutting table.”
One of the most unique aspects of the project, according to Miller, was the use of three different colors in three different types of fabrics. “The designer wanted to have a distinct shadow effect on the ground,” he says. “We accomplished this by using different materials with varying opaqueness. Because the panels are not true rectangles and the sewing pattern is very complex, it was a challenge to maintain the pattern on the skewed shape of the panels. This was all laid out on a computer, then cut on our CNC cutting machine, then sewn together with a narrow span double needle machine with Tenara® thread.”
Miller and his team also handled the installation of the project’s structural support and fabric components. Small pipes were sewn inside pockets on either end of the panel assemblies where they attached to structural bars mounted to the buildings. “On the edges [we installed] one-fourth-inch stainless steel cables sewn into pockets,” Miller says. An attachment bar was designed to support the fabric components from the buildings that lined the open space.
The success of the project has garnered Miller a 2016 Award of Excellence in IFAI’s International Achievement Award program. Miller’s successful project has also resulted in additional orders for other parts of the shopping and entertainment center.
Jake Kulju, a frequent contributor to IFAI publications, is a freelance writer from Shafer, Minn.