Before you Buy: Design Considerations for Your Custom Fabric Structure

Legacy Building Solutions designs and builds fabric structures to fit the specific needs of each client, while ensuring safety, longevity and scalability factors. We take into account every detail of the structure’s purpose, daily use, site environmental factors and building code requirements. This is yet another way we work to ensure your fabric structure is optimized to maximize efficiency and your return on investment.

When planning your fabric structure, consider the following design considerations:

Collateral Loads on the Structure

A collateral load is the weight applied to the rigid structure framing members. Buildings with different collateral loads have different design needs. Our design-build and design-assist associates work with you at the outset to determine the loads needed for collateral equipment as well as building code regulations.

Typical factors affecting collateral loads for fabric buildings include:

Indoor Lighting

Unlike steel buildings, fabric structures benefit significantly from natural light, so should your building be used primarily during daylight hours, less indoor lighting and less collateral load may be necessary.

Sprinklers and Fire Suppression

The need for sprinklers and other fire suppression equipment in a building is most often determined by your intended use and local building code in your area. Regardless of the requirements, we’ll design the rigid frames of your fabric structure to support any mandated wet or chemical suppression system.

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Systems (HVAC)

Legacy is equipped to design for a wide variety of HVAC and climate control systems in your fabric structure, including some less common, highly specialized systems. Some of the HVAC systems we can integrate with our structures include powered fans, simple and complex climate control systems, heating and cooling systems, radiant air, forced air, in-floor heating and cooling and air rotation units.

Whatever the air circulation and environmental control needs of your fabric building, the rigid steel frame will be designed to safely accommodate the load of HVAC equipment.

Hanging Loads on the Fabric Structure

Equipment loads affixed to the structure’s frames are calculated into the roof-load specifications of your fabric structure by Legacy’s engineers. During the design process, we balance hanging loads with all other structural and collateral loads to ensure the appropriate reinforcement is built into the frame and foundation.

The types of hanging load systems listed below are commonly included in the design of our fabric buildings:

Conveyor Systems

We design your fabric building to incorporate conveyor systems and catwalks into any part of the building’s steel frame, including walls or roof. Regardless of the material you need to convey, we work with conveyor systems experts to ensure these systems integrate fully and safely into your building’s design.

Overhead Cranes

Legacy is the only fabric structure building company with the engineering ability to incorporate overhead crane systems into the rigid frame designs of our fabric structures.

Mezzanines and Shelves

As with the other hanging loads, Legacy will incorporate needed mezzanine, platform and shelving loads into the frame design of your custom building.

Sidewall Commodity Loads

Bulk commodity and other storage buildings often need added loads designed into the sidewalls of the structure. These are easily accommodated into the design of your fabric building.

Environmental Loads

The typical environmental factors that affect the design of your fabric structure include:

Seismic Loads

Considering seismic load during the design process is especially important in earthquake prone areas. In these cases, we design the frame of your fabric structure to include any reinforcement and flexibility requirements to meet local seismic construction regulations.

Wind Loads

Sound engineering of any building accounts for the additional load that strong winds can cause, and the same is especially true of good engineering for fabric structures.

Legacy works with you to design your fabric structure to meet wind load design guidelines for the area where your structure will be sited, ensuring that it will be sufficiently strong to remain stable in the face of even the most prolonged and forceful wind events.

Snow Loads

The smooth fabric surfaces of sloped roof designs certainly help relieve snow loads on fabric buildings, but frame structures must be designed accordingly for strength. We ensure that fabric, roof slope and frame structure meet local snow load requirements.

Legacy designs and builds structures to withstand not just one of these possible environmental factors, but the possibility of more than one of these events occurring at once.

Thermal Factors

The heating and cooling requirements of a fabric building can also affect the overall structure load and frame design. For instance, if you plan to heat the interior of your fabric building, this must be considered in the material specifications.

Use and Occupancy-Importance Category

Your fabric structure must be strong enough to support all of its equipment and environmental loads, which is multiplied by an importance factor. Occupancy factors become particularly important in fabric structures that will be occupied.

Building codes include a “hazard rating” or “importance category” that relates directly to the maximum use and occupancy that the building is expected to receive. Higher occupancy buildings are considered higher hazard structures, as are buildings that are used as disaster shelters in the event of an emergency. Legacy specializes in designing and constructing long-lasting buildings that meet or exceed low-hazard, normal and high-hazard building requirements.

Enclosure Category

Depending on the number of open external walls in the design of the fabric building, the structure falls into different enclosure categories. The Legacy engineering team works with your own engineers and architects to produce a strong, balanced frame design, regardless of your building’s enclosure category.

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