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Steel and fabric roof structure believed to be largest in North America

June 1st, 2016 / By: / Project Briefs, Projects

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A new 700-by-300-foot dome steel and fabric roof structure allows the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to perform vehicle crash tests regardless of the weather. Photo courtesy of Serge Ferrari North America.

Serge Ferrari North America and Dunn Lightweight Architecture have completed what is believed to be one of the largest steel and fabric roof structures in North America at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Ruckersville, Va. facility.

In 2014, IIHS lost 100 days on its outdoor test track due to rain or snow. To improve efficiency, the institute decided to upgrade its facility with a steel and fabric roof that could withstand the elements and allow the organization to test cars year-round.

A key requirement was a roof that could transmit a high amount of natural light to minimize the need for supplemental lighting. Serge Ferrari’s Precontraint 1502 T2 was specially manufactured for the job to transmit 66 percent more light than a standard Precontraint 1502 T2 fabric.

With a maximum height of 115 feet, the 700-by-300-foot dome is built on 18 concrete piers that are reinforced by more than 39 miles of steel bars inside. Thirty percent of each pier is underground, and seven steel spans made from 1,000 tons of steel connect the piers. Six fabric panels totaling 250,000 square feet of Serge Ferrari flexible composite membrane are installed between steel spans. Completed in September 2015, the structure is engineered to withstand a 24-inch snow load and 90-mph winds.

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