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TENARA architectural fabric covers Wimbledon New Centre Court
May '09
This summer, W. L. Gore & Associates, the company best known for its waterproof and breathable outerwear fabric, will encourage people to take off their GORE-TEX jackets at one of the world's biggest sporting events—Wimbledon. The company announced this week that the new retractable roof over Centre Court is made of GORE TENARA Architectural Fabric, a product that will reduce the impact of wet weather at the tennis tournament.

Gore's fabric was chosen, in part, for its unparalleled ability to let light pass through while offering protection from the elements. Play will still feel like it is outdoors, even when the roof is closed.

On May 17 the roof debuted to a packed house at a special Centre Court celebration. During the event, spectators experienced a fully covered stadium still flooded with natural light. On the grass court, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Tim Henman and Kim Clijsters showed that top tennis can be played in the new atmosphere.

"We're extremely honored that our fabric is part of this structure," Gore product specialist Thomas Kelmartin said. "Wimbledon is such a historic event, and this roof represents one of the biggest architectural changes ever to take place at the Centre Court venue. Our fabric will keep players and spectators dry during even the heaviest downpours, while preserving the traditional outdoor experience associated with the championships."

As an outdoor tennis tournament, Wimbledon is sometimes affected by English summer rain, which has resulted in interruptions, delays and postponed matches throughout the event's 132-year history. Such stoppages have caused headaches for players and fans, as well as the many television channels broadcasting the matches in more than 130 countries.

To address the problem, the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club decided to incorporate a sophisticated retractable roof over the Centre Court venue, which has played host to Wimbledon's highest profile matches since 1922.

The roof, designed by the British architectural firm HOK and built by the British construction company Galliford Try, is composed of approximately 56,000 square feet of GORE TENARA Architectural Fabric. Supported by 10 steel trusses, the structure spans 252 feet and is positioned 52 feet above the lawn. The covering can be deployed in just 10 minutes to provide prompt protection from wet weather.

Gore's fabric features many properties that made it the ideal choice for the retractable structure. In addition to its superior light transmission, it is highly regarded for its flexibility and durability. Tests have confirmed that it can flex and fold repeatedly and remain undamaged. In fact, its ability to fold into a compact space contributed to a roof design that allowed the addition of 1,200 seats to Centre Court. Additionally, the fabric's durable properties will prevent it from cracking or developing mold and mildew while stored.

The material is also aesthetically pleasing, earning it use in a number of eye-catching applications around the world. And because it allows 40 percent sunlight to pass through and reflects almost all of the rest, it has an extraordinary brilliance both inside and out, underscoring the world-class ranking of Centre Court.

W. L. Gore & Associates

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