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The Merriweather Post Pavilion is a historic outdoor music venue located halfway between Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. Designed by architect Frank Gehry and N. David O'Malley with the firm of Gehry, Walsh, and O'Malley, the venue opened in 1967 and has played host to symphony orchestras, political rallies, and the biggest names in pop, rock, and country music. The project is part of a major renovation of the entire venue and is comprised of four retractable canopies that cover two new loge areas to the East and West of the fixed roof.

Each loge canopy consists of two retractable En-Fold® units. The canopy units closest to the stage measure a roughly 36' extension by 68' wide and support the retractable fabric canopy beneath four aluminum drive beams. The canopy units furthest from the stage measure a roughly 34' extension by 88' wide and support the retractable fabric canopy beneath five aluminum drive beams.

The purpose of the canopies is to provide protection from the elements during inclement weather for the two new loge areas adjacent to the fixed roof without altering the character of the historic structure. The client and their architects wanted a retractable solution that would complement the architecture of the two large rhomboid shaped areas and would also produce the lowest possible reaction loads that would need to be resisted by the supporting structure.

There are many unique and challenging aspects to this project that affected all phases, from design through the highly-compressed fabrication and installation schedules. The project was brought under contract at the end of December 2017 with installation slated for the opening concert of the season on May 19th. Near the end of the design phase of the canopies, a major windstorm hit the construction site while the contractor was in the process of jacking the existing roof twenty feet higher to accommodate the new loge areas. In the middle of the night on January 13th 2018, the fixed roof collapsed.

In spite of the accident, the schedule did not change. The entire roof and new construction had to be completed in a mere 111 days. To meet the compressed schedule, the retractable canopies had to be completed in a concurrent design/build process, where major components of the four canopy systems were being fabricated while the design was changing continually to work with the re-design of the new fixed roof.

The first shipment of the equipment left the Minneapolis fabrication facility on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018 and Uni-Systems’ field technician worked around the clock with the Costello Construction installation crew to install more than 10,000 square feet of En-Fold retractable canopy in only 22 days to enable the venue to open on schedule.

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Project Information

Costello Construction
Completion Date: 
Project Scope: 
Design, supply, installation, and technical support for the En-Fold retractable fabric canopy systems
JP2 Architects/Design Collective
Engineer of Record: 
GLR Engineers
Fabric Fabricator: 
Lightweight Manufacturing Inc.
General Contractor: 
Costello Construction
Costello Construction
Plan Area: 
10,560 sq. ft.
Design Wind Load: 
30 psf (ASCE 7-10)
En‐Fold Retractable Canopy: 

Unit 1 (2 En-Fold Retractable Fabric Canopies): Extension: 36’-1”

Width: 68’

Number of drive beams (each): 4

Unit 2 (2 En-Fold Retractable Fabric Canopies):

Extension: 33’-8”

Width: 88’

Number of drive beams (each): 5

Fabric: 1002 S2 from Serge Ferrari

Total Drive Beams: 18