Retractable Awning System Transforms Entertainment Venue

The Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., features an En-Fold retractable awning system.
The Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., features an En-Fold retractable awning system.

The Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., features an En-Fold stadium-grade retractable awning system manufactured by Uni-Systems LLC.

After a severe storm damaged the fixed roof of the entertainment venue during construction, Uni-Systems worked around the clock to install more than 10,000-square-feet of its En-Fold retractable canopy in 22 days, complementing the re-design of the fixed roof and enabling the venue to open on schedule.

“The ease of use and seamless design of En-Fold help us make our venue more attractive, while letting us have better sunlight for complicated landscaping,” says Brad Canfield, VP of operations, Merriweather Post Pavilion. “The system was also customized to fit our project needs, which meant everything.”

Originally designed by architect Frank Gehry and N. David O’Malley with the firm of Gehry, Walsh, and O’Malley, the Merriweather Post Pavilion first opened in 1967. Major renovations kicked off in 2014, and part of this project involved adapting the roof by raising it 20-feet to accommodate the new loge areas where the En-Fold system was incorporated.

Each loge canopy consists of two retractable En-Fold units, in total covering 10,560-square-feet. The canopy units located closest to the stage measure approximately 36-feet long by 68-feet wide and support the retractable fabric canopy beneath four aluminum drive beams. The canopy units furthest from the stage measure approximately 34-feet long by 88-feet wide and support the retractable fabric canopy beneath five aluminum drive beams.

The En-Fold system allows the entertainment venue to host open air events on nice days, but it also provides patrons cover from the elements when needed.
The En-Fold system allows the entertainment venue to host open air events on nice days, but it also provides patrons cover from the elements when needed.

The flexibility of the En-Fold system was also an asset to the renovated venue. “En-Fold has enhanced the space in such a way that we are able to host open air events on nice days but provide patrons quick cover to protect from the elements as needed,” says Canfield.

En-Fold is a pre-engineered, stadium-grade, fully-automated retractable awning system. It can remain fully deployed in winds up to 90 miles-per-hour (115 miles-per-hour ultimate wind speed in accordance with the 2015 IBC) and is available in a variety of configurations and sizes to fit any space.

The project was completed via the Design-build process and the venue opened on schedule in May 2018. Costello Construction was the general contractor and installer. Architectural and design services were provided by JP2 Architects and Design Collective, and the engineer for the En-Fold system was GLR Engineers. The fabric fabricator was Lightweight Manufacturing Inc. For more information about En-Fold systems, visit the website.

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