Western Canvas Products Association


  • 20 Jan 2009 9:55 PM
    Message # 86019


    J. Miller Canvas solves an anticipated energy- consumption problem for a customer with too much interior space to heat and cool. The new building occupied by a big- league charity fund-raising firm in California was cavernous. At 100,000 square feet and three stories tall, the structure threatened to eat up a lot of gas and electricity on heating and air-conditioning. Not wanting to pay exorbitant monthly energy bills, the fund-raising outfit summoned J. Miller Canvas of Santa Ana, Calif., to solve the problem by fabricating a number of indoor tent structures and deploying them throughout the gigantic facility.

    "Basically, what this customer wanted to do was cluster groups of its employees under a total of eight of these tents, which, in effect, formed buildings within a building," says J. Miller Canvas owner Jim Miller. "This arrangement would allow the majority of air conditioning to be confined to the tents. The tents being significantly smaller spaces than the surrounding interior of the building meant less consumption of energy to provide comfortable cooling ."All of the building was air conditioned the tents and the large commons areas in between the tents. It's just that with everyone spending most of their time inside a tented area, they could set the thermostat higher for the commons. They saved a lot of money on air conditioning by doing it this way."


    To be technically correct, the tents were finned tension structures. "The design of these tents is complex," says Miller. "These aren't conventional tent structures. The body of each tent is kept low to the ground to minimize the space that needs to be cooled and also to trap the coolness once it's achieved. But, by the same token, these aren't squatty, flat-panel structures. They have aesthetically pleasing height, which is created with the help of fins."

    The largest of the tents measured 40 feet by 80 feet, the smallest 20 feet by 40 feet. Tent interiors are illuminated with both direct and bounce lighting. Built into the tents is a support system that accommodates fire sprinklers. John Boyle Co.'s "Main Street" fabric was the material used throughout. "We chose 'Main Street' for a couple of reasons," says Miller. "First, it has a fire-resistance certification of Class A, Class 1. Second, it's color quality is superb it's a bright, snowy white ."Three-eighths-inch galvanized cable was utilized to tension the tents from custom-made steel brackets welded to the interior face of the warehouse-style building's roof system.


    Installing the tents required the aid of a trio of articulating boom lifts. These allowed crews to rise above and reach across to the center of each tent. Installation did not occur in isolation, however. "There were contractors from every trade there on site at the same time as us," Miller recalls. "We had to carefully coordinate our work with theirs very challenging since we were all operating under tight schedules. We didn't want to get in their way and interfere with the pace of their activities. But, at the same time, we wanted to make sure they would take steps to avoid damaging the fabric while they were attempting to get in and do their portions of the build-out."


    Thanks to good planning and nimble execution, J. Miller Canvas brought the project in on time, much to the delight of the customer. Part of the reason this occurred is that J. Miller Canvas has designed its shop in a way closer akin to a sail- making loft than to a conventional awnings factory. "Our floor is completely covered in a highly varnished wood," says Miller. "That way, if we have a tension structure or other projects that are too big for a tabletop, we can lay them out on the floor and hold them in place with pins pressed directly into the wood. "Also, it's a lot more comfortable a surface to work on than is concrete. Because of the comfort factor, we're happier as we work. That means we do a better job in addition to a faster job.

    "And the wood floor means we can keep the product very clean because we dust-mop at the start of each day. "Sewing machines have been set at floor-level, which in effect transforms the floor into a giant table. "Another stand apart for us is our in- house automated cutting table," Miller tells. "It allows us to do tension structures without having to plot on the floor of our facility saves us a lot of time. "Accordingly, in addition to providing a precision product, the company also can turn jobs around faster. "Our work is performed entirely in-house," says Miller. "Nothing is farmed out."


    J. Miller Canvas is famous for commercial awnings, tension, structures and custom interior fabrics. The company is distinguished too by its ability to handle completely custom projects and willingness to travel anywhere. "The farthest we've ventured out is the resort island of St. Kits Nevis off Venezuela, "says Miller. "We've also done projects in New York, and have projects on an on-going basis for a nationwide clothing store chain." The tents Miller's firm built for the charity fund-raising company won several architectural awards. Los Angeles-based Clive Wilkinson Architects was the designer.

    Another secret behind the success of the project was J. Miller Canvas's ability to take the architect's sketches and transform them into workable construction schematics. "We have a state-of-the-art CAD drawing and photo rendering system that lets us provide our architect customers a clear understanding of what it will take to fabricate the product and what the finished product will look like even before the first piece of material is cut," says Miller. "We speak the same language of the architects and are able to provide them with a product that meets all their expectations. We don't have the problem of having to go through a learning curve with them. We're ready to roll up our sleeves and get cracking as soon as we're given the job."

    (Visit J. Miller Canvas on the Internet at: www.jmillercanvas.com.)


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