Tentnology erects an elegant canopy in front of the World Trade Center memorial site.
By Brianna Bowne
Adjacent to Manhattan’s most poignant site, a massive white canopy watches over the comings and goings of subway patrons. Tentnology’s Saddlespan™ installation over the entrance to the World Trade Center PATH station is helping to foster a sense of hope and restoration to the city’s busiest transit center.
The New York Port Authority (NYPA), working through a contractor, chose Tentnology because of the unique and inspiring look of the Surrey, British Columbia, Canada-based company’s Saddlespan. With curves reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House, the structure measures 37 feet high, 60 feet wide and 85 feet long. Lights that span the arches provide a welcoming glow for subway riders.
“We wanted people, when they came out of the subway in the morning, to see something uplifting. And the Saddlespan is [uplifting]. It makes a good roof,” says Gery Warner, the tent’s designer. Warner co-owns Tentnology with his wife, Suzanne.
The original Saddlespan design had to be altered and reinforced so that it could stand up to New York’s heavy snow load. The high-strength aluminum alloy frame had to be thicker and stiffer closer to the base, with additional reinforcements in areas of high stress.
A second challenge was installing the structure at the station. Because of the high volume of foot traffic through the station during the day, the tent had to be installed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. the night before a 2007 memorial service. First, the tent had to be assembled about 100 yards off-site during the day. Then, with forklifts and a crane, the tent was placed over the subway station in the middle of the night.
“It was challenging, but we got her in there,” Gery Warner says. “We had her all tied down by morning.”