Tensioned Membrane Roof Updates Mall

Birdair Tensotherm

Birdair Inc. brought a modern look to the Park City Center mall in Lancaster, Pa., thanks to the installation of a retrofitted Tensotherm translucent insulated tensioned membrane system. The three-layer Tensotherm roof replaced a single-layer tensile membrane roof Birdair installed at the mall in 1988.

With the help of Blackhawk helicopters, large fabric bundles were lifted from the adjacent parking lot and precisely placed on four different strategically built platforms for final installation of the new roof.

Tensotherm’s three layers include an outer polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-coated fiberglass membrane, one layer of 8mm Nanogel aerogel blanket and an interior PTFE acoustical liner. Birdair’s scope for the 25,000-square-foot retrofit included design, engineering, fabrication and installation of the full replacement. 

“The Park City Center retrofit project presented a challenging yet exciting opportunity for Birdair,” says Dave Capezzuto, vice president, Pre-Construction Services and Operations, North America, Birdair. “Because the mall was open and active at the time of installation, construction crews—including rope access technicians—worked during the night to complete the project. We’re extremely proud of the work our entire team put in to help provide Park City Center with a new Tensotherm membrane system while continuing the Birdair legacy at the mall.”

With the help of Blackhawk helicopters, large fabric bundles were lifted from the adjacent parking lot and precisely placed on four different strategically built platforms for final installation of the new roof. This methodology was key to the success of the project due to the location of the center court and the ease of install. The Birdair team worked with JP2 Architects to complete the retrofit.

When Park City Center was constructed in the early 1970s, its center court was enclosed with a solid roof structure. In 1988, the original roof was removed and replaced with a single-layer PVC tensile fabric membrane roof in a single conical configuration designed and built by Birdair. The roof is mounted from a central steel tri-cord mast around 100 feet in height, with supporting radial cables attached from the top of the mast down to the perimeter beam. Eight to 10 feet above the primary mall roof, steel beams framed the perimeter of the low tensile roof in an octagon 160 feet across. The top of the center mast features an aluminum framed hexagonal skylight.

Because the mall was open and active at the time of installation, construction crews—including rope access technicians—worked through the night to complete the project.

The world’s first and only translucent and insulated tensile fabric roofing material, Tensotherm is a composite system comprised of a PTFE fiberglass membrane exterior skin, a thin translucent insulation blanket embedded with aerogel and a thinner and lighter acoustic or vapor barrier interior liner. Tensotherm benefits include diffused glare-free natural daylight, enhanced temperature control, remarkable acoustics and innovative sustainability. 

Park City Center offers more than 150 stores, including Apple, H&M, Sephora and Lush. The 1.4 million-square-foot mall is also home to restaurants such as Shogun Asian Fusion Hibachi and Sushi, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Olive Garden and Bonefish Grill. In addition to retail and dining, the mall also hosts various in-store demos, classes and events. 

A full-service design-build contractor for tensile architecture, Birdair features a comprehensive range of pre-construction services including design assistance, budgeting, construction methodologies and project schedule development. Birdair’s in-house capabilities include design development, engineering, fabrication, construction (installation) and service and warranty services.

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