Feature Article - February 2017
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Structural Integrity

Nonconventional Buildings Offer Savings, Customization

By Deborah L. Vence

The Benefits

With natural light provided during daylight hours, electricity bills can be cut by more than half, which marks just one of the benefits of nonconventional structures.

"[Our company's] buildings also provide cost savings on foundation and overall installation costs. Width and height can easily be adjusted to best match the intended recreational or athletic activity," Ching said.

Compared to conventional construction, Avery's company's structures are a lower overall cost. "We are about a third less in total cost; and half the time to build," he said.

Meanwhile, many of Goldrup's company's clients have seen growth in business since opening their newly constructed facilities. For example, Jay Peak Resort's Pump House Indoor Waterpark in Vermont experienced a 120 percent year-over-year growth in guest reservations after opening its new Pump House indoor waterpark in 2011, as well as a 300 percent increase in single-day visitors.

Goldrup's company designed, manufactured and installed its tallest retractable roof enclosure for Jay Peak. The enclosure measures 140 feet by 280 feet and rises 43 feet high at the sidewalls. The enclosure also features a curved cupola at its apex, which houses a 55-foot-high, all-aluminum slide tower designed and built to support a looping and zigzagging slide.

In another example, the end goal of a pool enclosure added to the Woodruff YMCA in Connecticut was to increase its 4,000-person member base to 6,000 over two years. When the new enclosure was opened, the YMCA location significantly exceeded expectations by adding 3,000 new members within just a few months.

And since the new pool enclosure opened at the Mission Valley YMCA in San Diego, income from aquatic activities has increased more than 40 percent, according to the YMCA's executive director.

Speaking of benefits, Mark McNichol, director of sales for a company in Manchester, N.H., which specializes in turnkey daylighting solutions, said all of the main components to a building, canopy and skylight manufactured by his company are made from aluminum and fiberglass.

"This gives a great corrosion-resistant benefit, making for long lasting units for our customers," McNichol said. "Also, with the diffused daylight of the Kalwall panel used to clad the aluminum structure, all the benefits of natural full visible spectrum diffuse daylight are received by the people under or in the unit. There is also a low solar heat gain and a high R-value (up to R20), so there is great energy efficiency for a product which provides daylight to a building."

Rennie Turner, who works as a sports and entertainment sales consultant for the same South Haven, Minn.-based company as Williams, said some of the benefits of his company's buildings include the ability to repurpose for handling future needs and expansions.

"They are also relocatable, green-friendly and have faster construction," Turner said. "And, because all the buildings are code-compliant, they can be used for a variety of events—sports one day, a concert the next, etc. This greatly enhances the revenue-generating capacity of the structure."

Nonconventional Options

In addition to natural light transmission, Ching's company encourages customers to allow natural ventilation by leaving the ends or sides open whenever possible. His company's athletic facilities are able to be designed with insulation if needed.

"Recently, we have incorporated steel siding as an option to create a 'hybrid' steel/fabric design," Ching said. "White covers provide best light transmission, but covers can be accented with colors to match logos of athletic teams and organizations."

Meanwhile, Goldrup's company offers more than just a typical skylight. The company's team of architects and design experts has created some of the most technologically advanced, lightweight and versatile freestanding retractable roof enclosures for venues of every size since 1989.

"Every structure is custom designed and built to meet the customer's desire. The enclosures can take the form of a double slope roof with glass vertical sidewalls or be a lean-to attached to an adjacent structure," said Dave Bolwerk, who works as the director of sales and marketing for the same Ontario, Canada-based company as Goldrup.

The company also builds operable skylights that can open up to 100 percent of their length, telescoping roofs, retractable-walled enclosures, fixed roofs and skylights, and more.

"Each structure is built with aluminum framing, which provides the strength of steel with greatly reduced weight, superior durability and lower maintenance costs," Goldrup said. "This allows the structures to free-span up to 165 feet, or over 300 feet without interior support. All of our frames are thermally broken and resistant to rust and corrosion, making them the perfect choice for aquatic or pool environments."

At McNichol's company the options only are limited by the properties of aluminum as everything his company builds is custom.

"Also, [our company] will do design, engineering, fabrication and even installation (where applicable). Providing a single source solution for what [our] customers want. [We do] first-time projects all the time," he said.

Williams' company customizes to any peak height or location, and any standard architectural features are available.

"We don't restrict the customer to any pre-engineered dimensions or features. [Our] focus is on how we can fit your requirements rather than how you can fit into our restrictions," he said.