Feature Article - February 2018
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All-Season Structures

Innovative, Nonconventional Structures for Recreation, Sports & Fitness

By Rick Dandes

Bottom Line: Do Your Research

Before you get started, you need to know what you are trying to accomplish and what you expect at the end of the day. Know all this as you approach an architect or manufacturer. "Our first question to a potential client," Ozdemir said, "is always: What is it we are covering? And what are you trying to get out of it? We may not always be the best solution, but whenever we are called, we dive further into a client's needs, their wants. Literally, your savings can be in the millions of dollars by having your architects do their due diligence. Consider the entire package of capital cost, reliability, performance long term and engineering safety, as you're looking at the occupancy of that facility."

In some cases, money may not be a deciding factor. Geoffrey Ching recalls attending a meeting in Miami where the principals weren't as concerned about cost as they were about the architectural look. "How is this going to fit into the neighborhood landscape? For them, it isn't about the lowest cost per square foot, it's about wanting the residents in the area to look at the structure and say it's beautiful."

There are, however, some basic factors every municipality or organization (such as a YMCA, college or large university) has to consider in choosing a so-called non-conventional structure, Avery said. "And it begins with, does it meet your budget? It also must work, that's basic. In a lot of membrane-type structures one size doesn't fit all. In other words, an air-support structure may not be appropriate for a diving facility, but it might be appropriate for tennis."

Match the suitability of every product, Avery noted. "There are some lower-cost fabric structures in the market that don't provide proper insulation or membrane tensioning, and they are truly temporary.

"You cannot apply a temporary structure as a permanent building solution," Avery added. "You might, but you will be disappointed with the result not giving you the refined finish, the energy performance, the long-term performance, in that the membrane won't be tensioned.

"If you get wowed by low cost, you'd better go see the structure in person," Avery warned. "You need to go see whatever you are buying in fabric structures because there is a wide range of quality out there. If you go for too low-end a product, you'll never want to use another fabric building again, and you are setting yourself up for disappointment."