A Rubb Arctic adventure on the move…

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The Rubb structure built on the ice cap in Greenland for the National Science Foundation has taken a sled ride to a different location.

As previously referenced, the Rubb BVR storage facility, known as the Summit Mobile Garage, is a 32’ x 97’ heavily insulated building designed and engineered to be moved or, more aptly, moved by sled from place to place. Due to massive amounts of drifting snow it is easier to tow the building to a new resting spot rather than remove the piles of snow.

In the pictures above, the site crew is shown towing and pivoting the building to its new temporary location. According to Marc Boutet, who spent a month in Greenland as technical advisor: “The guys told me they waited for a warm, balmy day and dragged the building to a spot less likely to get buried with drifting snow… warm and balmy means a few degrees above zero,” Marc added with a chuckle.

Actually the Rubb building was moved about 400 yards and the crew at Summit Station reported no problems with the move. “That’s because we designed and built it right,” concluded Marc.

For more information on this project or on any other high quality Rubb products go to www.rubbusa.com

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Apprentice builds experience in design and engineering at Rubb

Apprentice Liam Whyatt at Rubb Buildings Ltd

Rubb Buildings Ltd has welcomed our first Technical Apprentice to our Engineering Design Department at Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead.

Liam Whyatt, who attended Heworth Grange School decided that he wanted to pursue a technical apprenticeship rather than go to university after achieving excellent GCSE and AS Level grades.

Liam, who is studying Mechanical Engineering at Tyne Metropolitan College, Wallsend, said: “I really wanted to gain some hands-on experience in the world of work. At Rubb it is really interesting how all the elements of design, manufacturing and construction come together in one place. I am looking forward to working here.”

Rubb Buildings Ltd specialises in the design and manufacture of quality relocatable and permanent engineered fabric structures.

Design Office Manager Dale Robinson (pictured above, left) added: “We are pleased Liam has decided to pursue an apprenticeship route with Rubb. From first-hand experience a ‘work while you learn’ system gives a better practical understanding of the theory taught in universities and colleges. Liam has a keen interest in engineering and will develop the skills and knowledge at Rubb to become a successful engineer and play a key role in the future development of the company.”

Liam (pictured above, right) applied to Tyne North Training Ltd in the summer of 2014, where he completed assessments and the interview process. It became clear to TNT that Liam’s future looked bright in the field of Design Engineering, which in the past has been a profession, which started at university.

TNT began working to secure an Engineering Technical Support apprenticeship placement for the 18-year-old.

TNT Training Officer John Hopper said: “This apprenticeship at Rubb is a great opportunity for a young dynamic apprentice. Rubb’s engineers design, plan and manufacture innovative and efficient semi-permanent buildings for a variety of applications.

“Liam will be involved from the start of a project to ensure that he learns all about and contributes to Rubb coming up with the best custom design for their clients. This is an exciting role for any young apprentice who wishes to become a professional engineer.”

Ask the Engineer: Occupancy Categories

Ask the Engineer is a blog segment presented by the engineering department at Rubb Building Systems. Our goal is to help Rubb customers to understand the world of structure engineering in a way that is free of jargon and easy to comprehend. We hope to educate, advise, and consult on best practices and why proper engineering is crucial to project safety and cost over the long term.

What is an “Occupancy Category”?

Occupancy category is defined as the purpose for which a building or other structure, or part thereof, is used or intended to be used. “It essentially breaks down to how many people are inside, whether it’s temporary or permanent, and the function of the building,” our engineer explained. There are four occupancy categories, each determined by the nature of the occupancy which is based on elements such as hazard to human life in the event of failure, economic impact, essentiality of the facility, and so on. The basic breakdown is as follows:

Occupancy Categories

Why do structural engineers need occupancy categories?

The purpose of occupancy categories is to calculate your design load, which is the maximum force a building must handle before being deemed unsafe. This is based on the combined weight of the building materials, occupants, and environmental effects such as snow, wind, rain, seismic activity, ice, etc.

What is an importance factor?

Importance factors are numeric values assigned to each occupancy category that will increase or decrease the design loads for snow, wind, rain, seismic activity, ice, etc. when multiplied by the base load. This calculation system is based on a minimum requirement in which the primary intent is to protect the life and safety of the public. Therefore, a higher hazard to human life will result in a higher design load, and a lower hazard to human life will result in a lower design load. Occupancy category II will always have an importance factor of 1.0, thus making the design load the same as the base load.

Who determines the occupancy category?

Occupancy category is determined by the authority having jurisdiction over the project. Although the engineer is not responsible for choosing the occupancy category, it is useful for them to know when calculating design loads for a structure.

How does occupancy category affect building costs?

Depending on the occupancy category, your price will fluctuate to account for the structural requirements and cost of materials. Higher occupancy categories will result in higher costs, and lower occupancy categories will result in lower costs. When researching and pricing out your building, it is important to compare “apples to apples”, and make sure the occupancy category is appropriate for the intended use of the building.

How does Rubb view occupancy categories?

Rubb Building Systems takes occupancy categories and the safety of those in our buildings very seriously. Unfortunately, others may not, capitalizing on technicalities in the wording of each occupancy category. Where does the line get drawn between “minor” and “major”, or “temporary” and “permanent”? “A responsible engineer determines the intended use and the customer needs, and uses their best judgment in determining occupancy category,” our engineer stressed. All of our engineers take the time and care to put the occupancy category on top of every cover sheet, so that our clients can see it up front and use it in correlation with other information. Our calculations are in accordance with the most current building codes, and all plans and drawings are documented and signed before sending them to our clients.

Didn’t answer your question? You can contact us by leaving a comment, e-mailing us, or messaging us on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Google+ and we’ll be happy to respond as soon as possible. You can also contact us by phone at 1-800-289-7822 or visit us at 1 Rubb Lane, Sanford, ME 04073.

Maine Innovators of Tension Fabric Structures

fabric innovationWhat do machine guns, toothpicks, and earmuffs all have in common? Seemingly nothing at first, however if you did a little digging you would find that all of these products were developed right here in Maine. And although this state has seen countless other paramount inventions, none comes close to the ingenious works of Charles William Moss and his Pop Tent which inspired and changed the world of fabric structures as we know them today.

Bill Moss was born in 1923 in Detroit, Michigan. Because of his creative nature, he chose to study art at the University of Michigan, the Layton School of Art, and the Cranbrook Academy of Art before getting a job as an artist  and illustrator for the Ford Times in 1949. A few years later in 1955, while still working for Ford, Bill Moss finished the design for his first Pop Tent model, forever altering peoples perception of camping and jumping into a future of fabric structures as a widely accepted industry. Throughout the following twenty years Moss would continue to improve his tent models, and even open his own design firm in Michigan, before moving to Maine with his wife at the time, Marylin, to found Moss Tent Works in 1975 as a retail manufacturing company. Although Moss retired from the company in 1983, leaving it in the hands of, by then ex-wife, Marylin, during his time in Maine he met and touched the lives of many, spreading his wisdom and guiding those who also wanted to dabble in the magnificence of fabric structures. Whether as a personal mentor or in spirit, his reputation brought visionaries from across Maine to the doorsteps of Moss Tent Works. One of these architectural pilgrims was Charles Duvall, who was hired at Moss Tent Works in 1984 and has been working with tensioned fabric ever since.

Charles DuvallBeginning as a camping tent designer at Moss Tent Works, Duvall was strongly influenced by plants and naturally resilient vegetation. His inspiration came from the idea that flowers, vines, weeds, and branches were all seemingly lightweight and delicate, yet strong and durable. This contradiction led Duvall to create some of the most exotic tent designs of his time, making them a world recognized commodity for their integrity, dependability, and charm. Duvall left Moss Tent Works in 1994 in order to start his own company, and in 1995 Duvall Designs was founded in Rockland, Maine. Moving in a more creative direction, Duvall Designs steps away from camping tents and focuses mainly on creative fabrications for architectural installations and exhibit spaces. His works can be seen in locations across the United States.

Cindy ThompsonAnother one of Moss’ most prominent disciples was Cindy Thompson, founder and president of Transformit, a company based out of Gorham, Maine that produces tensioned fabric sculptures. Thompson met Moss by the way of fate when he stumbled across her art at a gallery in Maine. Sharing an adoration for fabric elements in their creative work, Moss helped Thompson further her career by recommending her to Arizona State University, and upon her return to Maine in 1985, the two shared a studio together. Eventually they parted ways, and Transformit was founded in 1988. Since then the company has produced a number of prestigious exhibits, and even collaborated with Duvall Designs on a few projects.

Moss eventually moved to Arizona where he found luxury as a painter before his death in 1994 at the age of 72. But Bill Moss leaves behind an intangible legacy and tradition of fabric structures that is carried on by those who cherished and respected him. Companies like Moss Tent Works (eventually traded to REI and renamed Moss, Inc.), Duvall Designs, Transformit, and us here at Rubb, Inc. owe our thanks and appreciation to the ingenuity of the man known as the father of tension fabric – Charles William Moss.

Fabric structures – an alternative world

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Rubb UK’s structural engineer Dale Robinson highlights the features and benefits of fabric structures, their versatility and the benefits they can bring to clients looking for unique building solutions…

Tensioned fabric structures are becoming a well-developed technology. Architects have had the ability to experiment and create innovative fabric solutions. They are aesthetically pleasing, sensitive to the environment, and can be very cost efficient. 

Tension structures are becoming more commonly used in modern architecture due to the pleasing aesthetic properties they hold. It is believed they are efficient structures due to their weight/ strength ratio. There are three main elements of a membrane structure; the fabric which has to be constantly in tension in order to generate stiffness in the structure, flexible elements such as ties or cables, and the rigid support member’s that are subject to compression and bending forces.

In architecture fabric structures tend to be associated with large scale projects such as the London Millenium Dome, the Water Cube in Bejing, the Kiev Stadium and Jeddah Haj terminal to name a  few. However, there is another side to fabric structures that the architecture world may be less aware of. Structures that bridge the gap between the iconic structures mentioned above and the typical cycle shelter or entrance canopy. The ordinary structures used on a daily basis in the industrial, sports and aeronautical industries. There have been numerous successful, non-iconic projects where fabric structures have been adopted as an alternative to more traditional materials for buildings such as warehouses, hangars or sports halls.

These types of structures which are most commonly akin to portal frame structures use the fabric membrane as a cladding rather than the structure itself. Therefore the natural stiffness that is generated by the curvature of the fabric is not required to stabilise the structure. This offers great advantages over traditional builds. The main advantage is having the potential for a faster installation which results in a more cost effective solution. Another advantage is the ability to specify a translucent roof which can allow natural daylight into building saving energy costs. Given the flexibility of the fabric almost any shape can be accommodated and these structures are easily deconstructed which is predominantly why they excel in the temporary and relocatable markets. More recently there has been a large requirement for this type of structure to be designed and installed as a permanent solution. This tends to be in the sports industry mainly for schools, sports clubs and training facilities for professional sports teams. For a permanent solution additions can be made to the structure to include insulation, heating and ventilation to meet the necessary environmental regulations and more importantly to comply with Part L of the Building Regulations. Other ancillaries can be incorporated such as gutters, windows and doors along with any other additional requirements to provide sufficient amenities to the end user.

A fabric clad building solution is one of the most versatile and innovative solutions to modern day building problems. Although these structures tend to take the geometric stance of an industrial shape structure the shaping possibilities are limitless. The specific market and cost restrictions generally dictate this type of structure albeit we have seen exceptions in sports training facilities where alternative shapes tend to be introduced.

If a project operating on a tight timescale and requires a reliable, robust and cost effective solution, fabric covered buildings should be considered. They are designed suitably, as any other building, for the relevant environmental loading and to comply with Building Regulations. There are a variety of fabric colours available, that come with the necessary information on fire resistance and thermal properties to aid the designer. These structures can be partly clad in fabric along with alternative materials to form a unique hybrid solution which enables the architect to easily incorporate their own ethos into the final solution. Not forgetting this type of structure is sensitive to the environment and most fabric is recyclable which in turn makes this option sustainably viable.