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Fabric structures have long been used for in the public sector for salt and sand storage, along with waste and recycling operations. The wide, clear-span of interior space allows for easy entrance and exit by maintenance vehicles and offers unobstructed square footage for storing material piles or bins. Public works planners are always searching for ways to increase storage capacity and operating efficiency – fabric structures offer both for day-to-day municipal operations.

The use of fabric structures is increasing as newer materials are explored and creative applications are put to the test. According to the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI):

…newer, highly innovative temporary structures are being designed by young architects with an urgent need to build, using lightweight materials and loads of creativity. These structures often involve textiles and textile-based composites because these materials have an inherent strength-to-weight ratio that outperforms more traditional and heavier materials.

When considering a fabric building for municipal or government applications, it is the composite fabric and the underlying framework that should be considered in determining the structure’s usefulness and longevity. Calhoun applies finite analysis to analyze site-specific variables that determine the required design strength of the structure and to ensure the structure’s durability in changing climates and under physical forces it will be subjected to.

EPA Equipment Storage

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with many outdoor activities that require the movement or storage of equipment, chemicals, and bulk material aimed at protecting human health and/or keeping our environment safe. These federal agencies are locally situated within communities for quick response to environmental hazards and emergencies. The EPA will often use temporary spaces to store caustic chemicals or environmental hazards that have been removed from a location, but require short-term storage before disposal. These chemicals may release toxic gases or present spillage hazards that can adversely affect occupants in closed environments. An increasing trend is to provide an offsite, ventilated fabric building with a sprinkler system and emergency lighting – which is a better choice for containing possible occupational hazards.

Also consider the numerous materials used by Department Of Transportation and EPA where temporary storage or long-term warehousing is required. Vehicle oils, propane tanks, water testing agents, asphalt and concrete paving materials, land and water clean-up equipment, and much more are involved in the day-to-day operations of these government agencies. A Calhoun fabric structure can be quickly constructed, yet every structure is specifically engineered for the end-user’s site with finite element analysis (FEA) tools that ensure the framework and fabric covering can safely carry all transient and dead loads

Government Training Facilities

More and more, local and federal governments are turning to temporary training facilities to gain increased utilization from older stock buildings that don’t have the space or infrastructure to support additional activity.  From emergency management operations to employee training, the cost of a semi-permanent structure which can also support HVAC, lighting, and a variety of access doors and windows has enabled government entities to convert unused, open space into an onsite training facility. The benefit of a fabric building for training includes the combination of natural lighting and lighting fixtures which can simulate indoor or outdoor scenarios.

Fabric structures maximize interior space by eliminating center poles – which offers the opportunity to execute active shooter drills, triage scenarios, hand-to-hand combat training, exercise programs, and team interoperability protocols. The low operating costs of a semi-permanent building allows government agencies to add critical training space while staying within their annual budget. With large access doors, equipment and vehicles easily move in and out to quickly modify the area for new group training tasks.

Port and Marine Storage

The flexibility of fabric structures are being highlighted in the port and marine storage industries. When additional work space, covered parking, or marine equipment storage is required, a tensioned covering has proven to fit the needs where limited foundation space is available. The hot-dip galvanized framework of a Calhoun fabric structure is zinc coated to completely cover the inside and outside of the steel members. This process not only adds extra layers of thickness and strength to the frame, but also increases the lifespan of the entire structure in wet environments.

Multipurpose Government Spaces

Governments are overcoming budgetary limitations by investing in semi-permanent buildings to use as multipurpose areas for large gatherings, team meetings, physical or sports activities, and public information activities. A fabric building can be constructed on a concrete foundation and adapted for any function when mobile furniture and temporary partitions are used to modify the space. It’s this flexibility in usage and open-air space that makes a fabric structure suited for multipurpose activities.

Aircraft Storage

For long-term storage or maintenance facilities of small aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles, a semi-permanent building offers the flexibility to add increase area as operations expand. As an aircraft hangar, these shelters are preferred as they block most of the damaging UV rays from the sun. Limiting sunlight exposure can protect an aircrafts electronics and paint. They also double as a maintenance or aircraft cleaning area, while saving the costs of a permanent aircraft hangar. In the military, fabric structures are also used to house vehicles that are needed to travel the extensive acreage while transporting equipment.

Fabric structures are finding widespread acceptance during government facilities planning. There are many factors fueling the fabric structures market sector in the US. Most notably are:

  • More awareness among architects for fabrics as an alternative material for both indoor and outdoor structures
  • Increased demand for engineered structures, incorporating more engineering requirements, which has also increased the costs for projects
  • The quality of fabric continues to improve: lasting longer, retaining color longer via exposure to elements, especially the sun

Contact Calhoun Super Structures to discover how a fabric building can save on construction, operating costs, and take advantage of unused open spaces. From waste management, warehousing, and storage, to special purpose government facilities, there is a fabric structure that can exceed expectations while allowing for future expansion.


You might also be interested in reading about Engineered vs. Non-Engineered Fabric Structures: Why It Matters.