Multipurpose event centre at Alberta resort demonstrates advantage of tension fabric rigid steel frame structures


Canadian Design and Construction Report special feature

Near Edmonton, the Venue at the River Cree Resort and Casino is a 29,680 sq. ft. multipurpose event center. The recently opened building, featuring mezzanine seating and concert hall quality acoustics, is an illuminating example of the properties of tension fabric rigid steel frame structures. The Venue offers all the amenities of a conventionally constructed building, demonstrating the versatility and performance of the system.

Legacy Building Solutions designed, engineered, and manufactured the structure on a fast track construction schedule, minimizing downtime for the popular resort. The Edmonton, Alberta based company also acted as construction manager for the project.

Clad in durable polyethylene fabric, the 140 ft. by 200 ft. building with 12 ft. by 60 ft. and 12 ft. by 80 ft.’ lean-tos is home to a variety of entertainment, commercial, and business gatherings. The main floor has a seating capacity of 2,200 for stage productions and 1,200 when 8-person round tables and chairs are set up for conventions. Tied in to the rigid steel frame of the building, a mezzanine can hold 300 people in VIP boxes; two stairways provide access and egress.


Inherently modular, the building system is customizable in plan and elevation. A 40 ft. by 200 ft. foyer structure forms the public entrance to the hall. Adjoining the main building, the lean-tos house a green room and bar. A 10 ft. by 18 ft. overhead door gives direct access from the rear loading dock to the backstage area, streamlining the set up and breakdown of bulky equipment; another 10 ft. by 18 ft. door is located on the sidewall, facilitating an easy move in for trade show displays on the main floor.

While theatrical buildings often have a sloped floor, the River Cree structure has a flat floor. This allows the facility to host meetings and trade expos, which require the installation of tables, kiosks, and booths. To preserve the quality of the audience experience during stage shows, the platform was raised from the standard 42 inch height to 48 inches, maintaining sightlines throughout the column free space. Such functional flexibility allows the resort to book a full yet varied schedule of events, maintaining a steady revenue stream.


Of particular interest is how the tension fabric structure enhances the performance of HVAC systems, both passive and active. After working with the facility, Terry Smith, P. Eng. of Edmonton based TWS Engineering Ltd. said: “The fabric structure at River Cree provided many HVAC efficiencies that (can) exceed many traditional construction methods.”

The weather tight fabric panel attachment system – proprietary to Legacy Building Solutions- is key to this capability. “The unique construction methods used for this structure allowed for minimal air leakage through the wall assembly as well as at the building’s fenestrations,” Smith said.

“This lets the building be adequately ventilated without the need to introduce excessive outside air. Tighter control of the building’s operating conditions was also achieved, which permits the structure to operate more efficiently, with minimal air quality issues and lower than average building heating requirements.”

In addition, the building’s structure and materials have been designed to stand up to the infamous Chinook winds that gust through the area at speeds in excess of 60 mph.

At the Venue, the acoustics – a critical aspect of any performance venue – have passed muster by both musicians and the neighbours. A previous building on the site (since demolished) had drawn complaints from the community about noise leaking during concerts. With its batt insulation and interior fabric liner, the new structure channels crisp, clear sound throughout the hall, but not beyond its walls.

“The interior fabric skin of this structure allowed for minimal reverberation within the venue,” noted Smith. “This provides the client with high quality acoustic attenuation in the entertainment space.”

The liner also works to deaden the sound generated by the mechanical systems that are mounted on or adjacent to the main structure. The building’s acoustic properties were further refined by a special noise absorbing admix that was added to the concrete before the floor slab was poured. The entertainment venue is the first stage of the project at River Cree Resort and Casino. Further additions are in the works.

About Legacy Building Solutions Legacy Building Solutions is a design-build manufacturer of fabric structures on a rigid steel frame. The international company is based in South Haven, Minnesota.



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