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Installation under pressure

April 1st, 2014 / By: / Project Briefs

High-tech conference attendees network and socialize under a high-tech inflatable structure.

When global cloud computing company Salesforce.com needed to turn a block of San Francisco into a covered plaza for
the 120,000 attendees of its annual Dreamforce event, it opted for a large inflatable structure by U.K. manufacturer Tectoniks Ltd.—an unusual solution in
North America.

For the November 2013 Dreamforce, organizers desired a visually stunning centerpiece that would be open and airy while still providing cover from inclement weather. And because the event closes off a street in the city’s financial district, the structure needed be installed in a single night.

“No other type of temporary structure of this size could have been installed in the time permitted with the crew and equipment available,” says David Kelsall, Tectoniks’ technical director. “The organic shape and unique visual appeal of the finished structure would also be extremely difficult and costly to achieve with any other form of temporary structure.”

Working with experiential marketing specialist company George P. Johnson, Tectoniks provided a 330-by-60-foot structure comprised of high-pressure inflatable tubes interspersed with low-pressure hexagonal pillows. The distribution of low-pressure air for the pillows was achieved with an internal network of more than 600 flexible hoses and 1,200 valves concealed within the high-pressure inflatable tubular framework of the structure.

The high-pressure tubes were constructed from Ferrari® 602 Opaque, the translucent material utilized Ferrari 402 Translucent and the transparent material was a 0.75mm clear PVC fire-retardant film. Actual inflation time was four hours.

The structure sat on concrete “shoes” containing the inflation equipment, hoses and valves required to pressurize the structure. The shoes also served as ballast, securing the structure for wind speeds up to 70 mph. In addition, the shoes’ low-profile design and smooth finish allowed them to serve as benches.

Billed by Salesforce.com as the “largest inflatable structure ever erected in North America,” similar large inflatable structures are more common in other parts of the world.
“Despite our perfect safety record, the cost of product liability insurance in the U.S. is significantly higher than in other countries,” Kelsall says. “Our standard, worldwide insurance policy lists the U.S. as an exemption. We had to take out specific additional cover for this event. Unfortunately, I think this does act as a barrier to introducing technology such as this to the U.S.”

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