The team had 164 days after the initial project meeting to repair extensive damage from Hurricane Ike and more than double the covered seating capacity of pavilion. The tensile fabric structure, originally constructed in 1989, is a landmark outdoor amphitheater. The schedule was driven by the owner’s need to begin the 2009 concert season on time. The project involved designing the expanded structure for higher wind loads; replacing the existing tensile fabric and supporting cables; and strengthening existing steel elements and concrete foundations.

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands
Photo: Jeff Young

The structural engineer and the steel detailer created 3-D models to determine dimensions of the steel members and connections for detailing. They identified potential interferences between the fabric and cables with the steel substructure.

The fabric designer utilized new approaches to the design, including triangular fabric panels at the outer edges to avoid terminating ridge cables in edge catenary cables, and reinforcing the fabric with surface cables to act as rip stops. The surface cables panelize the fabric at seams to limit damage from windborne debris.

Key Players

Submitted by: Walter P Moore
Owner: The Center for the Performing Arts at The Woodlands, The Woodlands
Principal Roof Designer: Horst Berger, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.
General contractor: Fretz Construction Co., Houston
Architect: Rey de la Reza Architects Inc., Houston
Structural engineer: Walter P Moore, Houston
Principal roof designer: Horst Berger, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.
Civil engineer: Vogt Engineering LP, Shenandoah
Fabric designer: DeNardis Engineering LLC, White Plains, N.Y.
Steel fabricator: Alpha Fabricators Inc., Houston
Steel detailer: LVJ Specialty Inc., Lafayette, La.
Fabric patterning and installation contractor: FabriTec Structures, Dallas