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Birdair's Tensotherm Product Chosen for University Athletic Facility



Jan. 20, 2015 — Athletics are an important part of the college experience and the community environment at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. The university’s John J. Dillon Field House in the Knott Athletic Recreation Convocation Complex (ARCC) will soon feature a new 30,300-square-foot Tensotherm roofing system by Birdair.

The project is set to be completed in time for the fall 2015 school year.

The ARCC is a 105,000-square-foot facility used for fitness and recreation, intercollegiate athletics, and entertainment and cultural events. The John J. Dillon Field House, a part of the ARCC, has four multipurpose basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts and is surrounded by a jogging track. The ARCC also includes the Knott Area, a main arena/convocation center with a seating capacity of up to 5,000, as well as a swimming pool, racquetball court, and fitness room.

Birdair’s scope of work for this project includes the removal of the existing silicon-coated fiberglass membrane roofing system as well as the design, fabrication, and installation of the new Tensotherm insulated translucent membrane roof system. The insulated tensioned membrane (Tensotherm) will include an 8 millimeter aerogel insulation layer, to help with heat retention and noise reduction.

“Tensotherm is a great product for retrofitting and upgrading existing facilities.” said David Capezzuto, director of business development, Birdair. “It will help enhance the thermal and acoustical performance of the John J. Dillon Field House.”

Working directly with the Mount St. Mary University facility’s department, Birdair will provide a complete design-build solution. With over 55 years of experience, Birdair’s expertise in designing and constructing tensile architecture combined with its full-service in-house capabilities — which include design, fabrication, installation, and maintenance — enable Birdair to deliver award-winning solutions and continually innovate signature, high-quality designs.

Tensotherm provides invaluable benefits. These include: diffused glare-free natural daylight; enhanced temperature control, even in the most extreme environments; remarkable acoustics; and innovative sustainability.

Numerous studies document these benefits and show improved teaching and learning for schools, improved productivity for offices and manufacturing facilities, improved sales for shopping malls, and improved healing rates in hospitals.

To create Tensotherm, a thin translucent blanket, embedded with aerogel, is placed between a PTFE fiberglass membrane exterior skin and a thinner and lighter acoustic or vapor barrier interior liner. The resulting composite material is a thin, flexible and highly translucent glazing system that provides extraordinary benefits.

Such benefits include superior thermal insulation and dampening of acoustics, which is a real benefit for multi-purpose venues. Tensotherm is also surprisingly lightweight. Comprised of 95 percent air, aerogel is the world's lightest solid material, making Cabot Corp.'s aerogel a perfect fit for lightweight PTFE fiberglass fabric membrane. 

Together, this combination of materials delivers a composite system that is lighter than any other insulated roofing option, ideal for small/mid-size to long-span applications. Decreased weight limits the need for heavy supporting structures, minimizing material use and cost, and reduces energy consumption for shipping and installation.

Like traditional fabric architecture, which is installed in tension through principles of tensile architecture, Tensotherm’ s light weight and freedom of form allows for unlimited design possibilities. A Tensotherm roof and traditional single layer PTFE roof are very similar in appearance. In addition, PTFE is extremely durable and weather resistant in all climates, with projects known to last in excess of 30 years.

Teflon is a registered trademark of E. I. Du Pont De Nemours and Co., Delaware.

Birdair, Inc. is the leading specialty design build contractor of custom tensile structures throughout the world. In addition to pre-construction services such as design assistance, budgeting, construction methodologies and project scheduling, Birdair provides design-build solutions in all aspects of project design, fabrication, installation, and maintenance. For more information, visit


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