C+S February 2021 Vol. 7 Issue 2

Building Value into Sports Facilities Rigid-frame fabric buildings offer a high-quality

solution for budget-minded projects. By Shannon Humbert and Eric Donnay

We live in a world where spending power can create some pretty wide disparities. Gawdy mansions and luxury cars exist because somebody can afford them, even if most of us are quite comfortable and happy living in a family-friendly house and driving a reli- able, modestly-priced vehicle. Similar gulfs in wealth are evident in the sports facil- ity market, where professional franchises and the top major college athletic programs can rely on massive television contracts and booster funds to construct any type of building they deem necessary, with every bell and whistle included to play games, train ath- letes, or attract recruits.

essentially provided a conventional approach to building construction, just with fabric material as a more cost-effective cladding for the roof and sidewalls. Custom Fit Besides inspiring more structural confidence, rigid-frame design also opened up a new world of possibilities by providing much more design flexibility, allowing users to customize their fabric buildings to the precise dimensions necessary for the sports or activities taking place inside. When web-truss fabric buildings first became available to the athletics and recreation market – and even to this day – they were typically sup- plied in standard, pre-engineered sizes. Therefore, if a certain length and width were needed, for example, customers would have no choice but to go up to the nearest available standard size. Another feature of this building style is its curved frames, which can create unusable space along the sidewalls. The end result is that users often have to find ways to fit their building, rather than designing the building to fit their actual needs. With structural steel design, purchasers can start out with a clean sheet and develop a custom building plan from the beginning of the process. If the plan calls for basketball or volleyball to be played near a side- wall, the wall and roof slope can be built high enough to accommodate that activity. If the plan calls for tennis courts, the structure can be designed to USTAguidelines for building peak height and allow for the necessary space around each court. Ultimately, the rigid-frame design provides the ability to value-engi- neer a fabric building. By having their exact specifications met, users can get the space they truly need without paying for excess space or construction materials.

In most of the sporting world, there exists a similar goal of design- ing the best athletic facility money can buy – it’s just that the amount of money to actually work with is much lower. For the majority of universities, schools, communities, or recreation clubs in the process of procuring a new athletic facility, finding the best value is paramount. Cost-Effective Sports Architecture The conversation for many entities naturally begins with traditional brick-and-mortar buildings. This makes sense, since it’s the con- struction option with which most people are familiar, and there are usually very few question marks about how such a building would look and function. In reality, though, not everyone is in a financial position to spend mon- ey on traditional construction. Many organizations have instead turned toward more affordable alternatives, such as tension fabric buildings. However, even this building category alone offers some drastic differ- ences when it comes to engineering, quality, and longevity. First of all, it’s important to establish how fabric structure styles have evolved in the past decade. More than 10 years ago, Legacy Building Solutions introduced rigid-frame, structural steel engineering to fab- ric building design. Prior to this development, fabric structures were mostly built with web truss framing, a system still prevalent among many suppliers today. By utilizing I-beam frames, fabric buildings instantly achieved more universal credibility. From an engineering perspective, rigid-frame de- sign was a known and proven method. From an end user viewpoint, it




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