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The challenge of Ontario’s Celebration Zone for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, was to create two large-scale, temporary structures that could be fully erected in 72 hours within the confines of Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre and house a line-up of more than 500 events, including concerts and activities.
In order to achieve this, Hariri Pontarini Architects (HPA) turned to the inflatable building industry. Working with the expertise of Tectoniks UK, HPA developed two dynamic undulating pavilions framing open views to Toronto’s waterfront while creating a dramatic art installation in the urban landscape. The design creates a sense of occasion and can accommodate 1500 people at a time including provisions for cultural exhibits, large scale digital media, headline concerts, and food services.
Built with only two materials – tensile membrane fabric and compressed air – the two pavilions cover approximately 13,000 and 4,000 square feet respectively. The larger of the two structures covered a length of over 220’, a span of 70’, and a height of 50’. Due to the long span, its complex shape, the oversized openings, and the high wind-loads at Toronto’s waterfront, a highly detailed structural analysis had to be conducted to make the structures safe. HPA engaged Thornton Tomasetti (TT) and Blackwell Engineers to work alongside Tectoniks to solve the structural challenges. Blackwell synthesized the site specific wind characteristics and criteria, and then TT built a complex pneumatic structural model. Once the dynamic structural behaviour was finalized, Tectoniks was able to fabricate the structure in 10 weeks.
The structures were inflated in less than 36 hours. Inventive lighting and sound design brought alive the 38 day and night celebration, as the structures morphed from translucent white during the day, to warm pink and blue at night – all the while creating a light and breezy venue for Toronto’s summer enjoyment.