Specialty Fabrics Review December 2019 - 56

FOCUS

The wings required two months
to fabricate and a week to attach
to the tower. Each step of the
complex process produced
another challenge, according
to Jacob Schwartz, director of
engineering and construction,
International Tension Structures.
Photo: Dror Baldinger, FAIA.

MARKETS

STARTING WITH
THE WING ON THE
GROUND, WE HAD
TO ATTACH THE
MEMBRANE TO ONE
SIDE AND THEN FLIP
THE WHOLE THING
OVER TO ATTACH THE
OTHER SIDE; IT WAS
QUITE A PROCESS.
JACOB SCHWARTZ

56 REVIEW DECEMBER 2019

wanted to do all of the rigging and erection
ourselves in San Antonio because we were all
so close to it from the beginning," Schwartz
says. "I don't know if the installation would
have been as successful if we had hired a local
crew once we were there."
CRITICAL CONNECTIONS
The team spent a week on-site finalizing the
assembly. Each wing was lifted with a single
crane using a double pulley system, then
lowered and turned vertically until it reached
position. "If the wind came up even a little, we
had to shut down the work," Schwartz says.
Cables tie the wings together and back to
the building. "We also added compression
struts-about four per corner-to help
attach the wings to one another and provide
additional rigidity and support for the whole
structure," Schwartz says. The spine of each
wing is bolted to the tower as well.
A catwalk on top of the tower intensified
the level of difficulty. "The wings had to fly
up underneath the catwalk in order for us
to attach them to the building, but it was
blocking us from getting them close enough
to attach," Schwartz says. By temporarily
mounting a "clamp plate jig steel assembly"
to the outside of each wing, installers were

able to balance the wing against the catwalk
enough to move it closer to the tower. "This
was just one more challenge we had to take
head-on with our approach of not taking no
for an answer," Schwartz says.
Working with the site's electrical
contractor, they also hardwired the light
fixtures-roughly 10 per wing-to the
building's electrical system.
Installation was completed in 2018, with
a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by city
and state officials in March 2019. Schwartz
was happy to hear it exceeded expectations.
"Even thinking back to the mock-up,
the architects and builder were surprised at
how closely it matched their vision, but not
everyone was on board. After the project
was done, I heard that even the nonbelievers
were ecstatic," Schwartz says. "It's one thing
to look at this structure during the day, but
when you see it lit up at night, you get a feel
for how symbolic it is. This community will
forever know those wings and that tower as
their home, and we're very proud of that."
Holly Eamon is an editor and writer based
in Minneapolis, Minn.

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Specialty Fabrics Review December 2019

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