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'Frame-supported, fabric clad buildings are safe' – LSA
May '09
The Lightweight Structures Association (LSA), a division of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), said in a statement today: "The Lightweight Structures Association sends our thoughts and prayers to the people involved in the collapse of the frame supported fabric building at the Dallas Cowboys practice facility."

According to LSA Managing Director Beth Hungiville, "Frame-supported, fabric clad buildings have a long and durable history in the construction industry. Failures such as this collapse are very rare and we don't yet have an answer as to why this event has occurred. We are willing and able to assist in the full investigation of this matter which should take place, and again offer our thoughts and prayers to those affected by this event."

Design of frame-supported, fabric clad structures is governed by the International Building Code and other recognized building codes. These structures are required to be designed to withstand the same wind loads with the same safety factors as traditional brick and mortar buildings.

Wayne Rendely, PE, professional structural engineer and LSA member says, "When properly designed and engineered to the appropriate local building code; and manufactured and installed as per the design intent, it is my professional opinion that fabric-covered buildings are as safe or safer than conventional metal clad buildings."

Since common engineering practice does not allow the fabric to be considered as adding to the stability of the structure for these buildings, failures are generally associated with the structural frame, which are very rare.

Nic Goldsmith, past LSA Chairman, FAIA (Fellow with the American Institute of Architects), and owner of FTL Design Engineering Studio, also commented that: "Having designed and engineered lightweight fabric buildings worldwide for over 30 years, I am truly saddened by the weekend events at the Dallas Cowboys Practice Facility.

Lightweight fabric structures have a proven track record that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The structural integrity of these building systems is based on the design, the engineering, the type of materials selected, and its fabrication and installation on site. It is too early to speculate on the cause of this collapse, which will come out over time, but it is important to note that these structures are required to be designed to meet the local and state building codes."

Industrial Fabrics Association International

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