Case Study

Preserving the Essence of the Wolf Trap Experience


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Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Vienna, VA. Product: FlexShade ZIP. Photographer: Alan Wycheck, alanwycheckphoto.com

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Protection from the elements while preserving views of the park’s beautiful natural surroundings.

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is unique in the American park system. It is the only national park whose main mission is the presentation of the performing arts. Every May through September, the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts hosts multiple events in several outdoor theaters and venues in the park, including theater, musical concerts of all genres, and more.

In addition to performances, the park includes four outside covered decks that are rented out for events such as weddings or large parties where guests can enjoy the scenic natural backdrop. One deck is set aside exclusively for members of the Wolf Trap Foundation.

Even though the decks are covered, rain can sometimes be an issue, especially closer to the outer edges. To get the most out of the covered decks there needed to be a way to keep out the rain while preserving essential views of the park’s beautiful natural surroundings. Together, Draper and Goodwin Brothers Shades and Specialties, LLC of Rockville, Maryland came up with the perfect solution for the Wolf Trap Foundation: The motorized FlexShade ZIP.

“Although people typically think of shades for controlling glare and solar heat gain through windows, they’re also very effective in this kind of application,” said Clint Childress, LEED AP, solar control solutions product manager. “The rain doesn’t penetrate the mesh shade fabric, and the “ZIP” feature on both edges keep the panel securely in place, so there’s no leakage. It also allows Wolf Trap to create a controlled climate for a more year-round events space impervious not just to rain, but also wind, insects, and temperature extremes.”

For the all-important visual properties, Draper chose a dark fabric with a 3% openness factor. The color and openness combine to provide protection from the elements while preserving views of the park setting and fitting in with the design aesthetic of the venues.

But there is always an additional area of possible concern in this type of setting: safety.

“When you have a lot of people and objects in close proximity to the edge of a deck area, there is sometimes a concern that a shade will deploy and either cause an injury or be damaged,” said Childress. “We avoid that possibility by using radio-controlled obstruction detection motors. If a person or object is in the way of a descending shade, the unit senses the obstruction and reverses course.”

In all, Draper and Goodwin Brothers provided 62 FlexShade ZIP shades for the park, located outside Washington, DC.

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