Structurflex LLC Kansas City, MO

Project Details

Fabric 1

Producer: Saint-Gobain Technical Fabrics

Fabric 2

Sheerfill II
Producer: Saint-Gobain Technical Fabrics

Engineer Name 1
Joe Schedlbauer

Engineer Company 1
JES Engineering

Design Name
Paul Snustead

Design Company
Structurflex LLC

Architect Company
SEH Architects

Fabrication Company

Project Manager Name
Tim McFadden

Project Manager Company

Installation Name
Jay Thomas

Installation Company

Please describe the project specifications

The Civic Center Station is the main transportation hub for Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD). As part of a $31 million station revitalization project, we engineered, fabricated and installed three unique tensile membrane canopies made of structural steel and PTFE-coated fiberglass. The transportation hub ties directly into Denver Union Station which also used an extensive amount of PTFE coated fiberglass and ETFE membrane structures. The structures, three in total, were functionally intended to provide weather protection - snow, rain, sun exposure - but it was also necessary to provide a beacon of light and a recognizable symbol in a very busy urban core. The main structure, known as the 'boomerang' because of it shape, is a double layered membrane structure. A solid PTFE Fiberglass atop the structure provide complete waterproof and snow proof protection from above, while the PTFE open mesh on the underside provides reflective and translucent surface from which to project light. Internally lit, the membrane serves as a lantern shade, glowing and emanating light so that urban travelers can easily recognize their location.

What was the purpose of this project? What did the client request?

The architect was not familiar in the engineering of complex tensile membrane structures but they were familiar with our work around the world. The design requirements were as broad as most architectural requirement - elegant, iconic and functional. The use of tensile membrane however, was the obvious choice for the project. Design requirements were met, lifespan, maintenance requirements, functional, aesthetic, economic - all key points were only met with a tensile membrane structure. We were hired provide pre-bid engineering design services, handling all the typical details, steel sizing and integration of the membrane systems to ensure a quality integration. We provided a design only service contract, then bid / tendered the work and were ultimately awarded the work. In the end we were responsible for finalizing detailing, patterning, steel detailing, interface with other trades, ensuring of proper fitup and complying to Federal regulations for Buy American requirements.

What is unique or complex about the project?

PTFE coated-fiberglass mesh on the underside of the canopies keeps birds from perching and nesting, while the PTFE coated-fiberglass membrane on the roof transforms into a glowing beacon of light at night. The underside membrane also created a lantern effect that could not be achieved with traditional building materials. Tensile membrane was the obvious choice for the 'boomerang geometry, the aesthetic requirements, the efficiency of lighting a tensile membrane structure and the sheer elegance and seemlessness of the form.

What were the results of the project?

The results speak for themselves. This beautiful elegant structure serpentines around to create a dynamic demarcation and beacon of light for this busy transit hub in the heart of Denver. Other conventional building materials would have created a less interesting, less energetic less inspring design feature. The project has hosted a number of press junkets, media conferences and owner kick-offs due its appearance. Other conventional materials could have met the functional needs, however the city required something iconic, that could provide way finding, a beacon of sorts.

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