Rosa Parks Transit Center

Location: Detroit, MI 
Fabric Type: PTFE
Project Size: 51,030 sqft
Architect: Parsons Brinckerhoff
Owner: Detroit Economic Growth Corp. 
Engineer: Steve Neidig
Completion Date: 2009

The Rosa Parks Transit Center opened back in July of 2009. The Center provides a state-of-the-art transit area for bus riders and is a key component in the revitalization of downtown Detroit. Funded through state and federal grants, the $22.5 million project is adjacent to two People Mover stations to the north and south. The Transit Center has become the new central terminal for the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) and features a 25,700 square foot building with retail space, indoor passenger waiting areas (with real-time arrival and departure information), and a cashier area all with round-the-clock security.

At the heart of the Center is a 64,000 square foot custom tensile structure made of Teflon-coated fiberglass (PTFE) fabric. The mast-supported structure consists of seven A-frames which are 96 feet tall and 60 feet wide at the base. Each one weighs over 36,000 pounds. There are also eight 26 foot tall trusses that are 116 feet long and weigh over 28,000 pounds. The structure utilizes over 12,000 lineal feet of steel cables. The unique structure provides enormous aesthetic appeal, as well as shade and weather protection. Nic Goldsmith, Senior Principal of FTL Design, also notes its environmentally friendly features. “There are catch basins at various points on the low rings of the structure where rainwater is collected and ultimately reused for irrigation. In addition, by utilizing a translucent PTFE fabric it eliminates the need for artificial light during the day.” Claude Centner, President of FabriTec Structures, notes the impact of the project. “The Rosa Parks structure symbolizes the unique nature of a complex and intriguing industry that has grown in stature both around the world and increasingly in North America.” He adds, “This project really has provided an iconic element to the downtown district and, through its unique design and features, is an example of the advances in shape, function, and form of tensile membrane structures that can now be found in the United States.” A key player on the project included Parsons Brinkerhoff – one of the world leaders in planning, designing, engineering, and construction management. Also on board was Detroit-based general contractor DeMaria Building Company. FTL Design Engineering Studio provided preliminary engineering and design, and FabriTec Structures was responsible for the final engineering and construction of the massive outdoor tensile fabric structure.

The Rosa Parks Transit Center received an Award of Excellence in 2010 from IFAI. The Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) is a not-for-profit trade association comprised of member companies representing the international specialty fabrics marketplace.

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