State of the specialty fabrics industry: Fabric structures, awnings and canopies

March 1, 2016

The world economy in review Six years after the world economy emerged from the Great Recession of 2009, a return to a strong global expansion remains elusive. The downside risks to the world economy appeared more noticeable than ever in 2015. Economic growth has improved in the advanced economies—the United States, Japan and Europe. But …

Extending urban space

The Metzgergasse is a popular gathering place in the Buchs Town Center area of St. Gallen, Switzerland. With shops and restaurants, it’s a place for people to meet, take a stroll and relax. To enhance the area and make it an outdoor destination no matter the weather, Kugel Architekten, a Stuttgart, Germany-based architectural firm, was …

Seeing the light

February 1, 2016

There’s always something going on at the John J. Dillon Field House at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. The 30,300-square-foot facility is used for basketball, tennis, volleyball, track and other athletic activities year round. First constructed in 1987, the field house outlived original expectations and was in need of a renovation. Mount St. …

Angles of shade

Tech giant Google™ relies on old-school textiles to shed shade on its new campus expansion. Google™ is known for its inventiveness, creativity and efficiency. It is no surprise that the unique Internet company continued that trend when it chose an industrial fabric solution for the outdoor area of its new campus expansion. The shaded area …

A mixed-use shady oasis

January 1, 2016

London’s Wembley Park includes a covered play area to attract families—with a coated fabric that resists dirt. Wembley Park has a long history. An urban renewal success story, it’s been transformed again and again to fit the needs of the times. In 1880, the Metropolitan Railway opened a line across what was then an estate. …

Beyond the competition of fabric structures

Patty and Charly Smail of Shelter Structures Inc. build their business by learning from each new customer—and finding gaps in what the competition offers. “We’ve always been service-oriented people. That’s our style,” says Patty Smail, president of Shelter Structures Inc. in Philadelphia, Pa. “We wanted to find markets where they valued quality over price and …

Rooftop canopies

December 1, 2015

In daytime, three white sails provide protection from the sun; at night, lighted canopies create a warm, intimate atmosphere for elegant dining. Santa Monica Place, one of the most popular public gathering spots in this southern California Eden, has a storied history serving as backdrop to several films and television shows since its 1980 opening, …

Beyond the rectangle

Fabric structure manufacturers are stretching their boundaries with new shapes and flexible materials for temporary structures for events. Consider, if you will, the Pythagoreans, who dissected a sphere as early as 600 B.C. Latecomers like Plato and Buckminster Fuller took the ball and ran with it, so to speak. But in 2015, Platonic polyhedral/geodesic domes …

Growth of the gorillaBrella

November 1, 2015

In the summer of 2008, looking to capitalize on the long-standing residential backyard construction boom, Conrad Masterson and his then-partner Patrick Howe (who later founded the shade sail company Shazeebo in Carlsbad, Calif.) designed a permanent umbrella—something to be unobtrusive but provide adequate shade, that could hold up to normal winds and storms and would …

Selling shade

Conrad Masterson, president of Shade Industries, builds his business by focusing on what clients really want —and what employees need. “The first thing I learned when I entered the shade sail industry was to focus on what the customer really wants,” says Conrad Masterson, president of SHADE Industries, Phoenix, Ariz. “That may sound simple, but …