Retrofitted TensoSky® ETFE roof provides weather protection for students, staff and visitors
Birdair, Inc., the world’s leading specialty contractor for custom tensile membrane structures for
over 60 years, left a lasting impression at the University of Florida with a one–of–a–kind roofing
system atop the atrium of the university’s Architecture Building. The retrofitted roof features
Birdair’s innovative TensoSky® ETFE film.
The new roof covers the atrium’s open space and allows students, staff and visitors to use the
atrium regardless of weather conditions. The lightweight, flexible nature of ETFE membrane –
paired with its signature aesthetic and design benefits – made it the ideal film to use for the
TensoSky ETFE film is considered the material of choice for traditional skylight systems and can
be applied in single–, double– or triple–layered applications. The film offers a variety of benefits,
including exceptional light transmission, solar control, elasticity, longevity, acoustics and energy
efficiency. ETFE is also easily recyclable and can be remolded into new ETFE products such as
tubing components, wires or castings.
The 5,700–sq.ft. roof features 38 two–layer cushions utilizing clear transparent ETFE film,
allowing students and visitors to see the sky from under the roof. The ETFE canopy system is an
open–air structure, enabling air flow and ventilation around the perimeter of the structure.
Birdair’s scope of work included design–build services of the supporting structural steel framing
system, transparent ETFE film cushions, air inflation materials and clamping.
The Birdair construction crew worked under a compressed schedule for installation of the
structural steel’s helical, spiral non–tangent curve design. The crew, comprised of five union iron
workers from Iron Workers Local 397 in Tampa, Fla., worked 10–hour days, seven days a week
to install the structural steel frame over the university’s winter holiday break, to avoid lifting
over the building while students and staff were present. The roof also needed to meet Florida
Building Code (FBC) requirements.
“It was challenging to install the structural steel with a spiraling ridge and multi–angular purlins
while receiving deliveries of structural steel during the winter holiday break,” said James
Thomas, Director of Construction, Birdair. “We’re proud of the fact that the installation
challenge was met, with our crew installing all the structural steel before students and staff
returned from the break.”
After installing the structural steel, the team’s next challenge was to install the complete ETFE
skylight on the newly erected structural steel frame. The ETFE system is comprised of a self–
contained drainage system for condensation and weather protection, all custom fabricated to
match the spiral steel frame.
“A lot of coordination had to occur between the design of the ETFE roof system with the
existing building,” Thomas said. “The ETFE cushions, as well as the supporting steel standoffs
that hold the ETFE clamping extrusions, were all different. Our pin–based sliding connections
minimized bending moments being transposed into the building.”
“We’re excited about the result – a brand–new skylight system ready to welcome all who visit the
beautiful atrium at the University of Florida School of Architecture.”
Award–winning architectural firms KMF Architects and Brooks + Scarpa teamed up to work on
the retrofit project. The project team also included TLC Engineering Solutions, a multifaceted
high–performance engineering firm with global experience, and Stellar Construction, a fully
integrated design–build company specializing in architecture, construction, engineering and
Originally constructed in 1980, the School of Architecture Building serves as the administrative
home for the University of Florida. Facilities in the Architecture Building include dedicated
studios, classrooms, computer laboratories, fabrication spaces, administrative offices and a
gallery space for the presentation of work and exhibits. The open–air atrium and adjacent lawn
are considered the social and cultural heart of the school.
For more information on Birdair’s innovative roofing systems, canopies and skylights, visit
Birdair.com and follow Birdair on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Birdair, Inc., is the leading specialty design–build contractor of custom tensile structures around the world. In addition to pre–construction services such as design assistance, budgeting, construction methodologies and project scheduling, Birdair provides design–build solutions in all aspects of project design, fabrication, installation and maintenance. The company offers a selection of architectural fabric membranes, including PTFE fiberglass, ETFE film, PVC and Tensotherm™, an insulated tensioned membrane system. Birdair, based in Buffalo, NY, is a member of the Taiyo Kogyo Group, with operations serving North and South America and other international locations.
For more information about Birdair, call 1–800–622–2246 or visit Birdair.com.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 412.321.0879
Michele R. Taylor
Director of Marketing
micheleT@birdair.com | 716.633.9500
Birdair’s retrofitted TensoSky® ETFE roof at the University of Florida School of Architecture
Building Atrium covers the atrium’s open space and provides weather protection for students and
Birdair’s scope of work for the University of Florida School of Architecture Building Atrium
included design–build services of the supporting structural steel framing system, transparent
ETFE film cushions, air inflation materials and clamping.