Today, events at Festival Plaza have to contend with weather

This creates a number of challenges for event organizers and event goers, and has knock-on effects for the surrounding community.

For event promoters, it increases risk of being rained-out, or being too hot and limiting the time that event goers spend at their event.

Managing weather risks leads to most events taking place in the summer and limiting programming for the rest of the year.

Some events require weather protection by their regulating bodies, and the cost of temporary shelter is prohibitive

These factors reduce the number of events, and the kinds of events, at Festival Plaza.

Many events at Festival Plaza are multi-day events, in part, to mitigate weather risks.

For event goers, outdoor comfort is a critical factor in the enjoyment of events, as well as an important factor in influencing the length of time spent at events

Fewer events, shorter dwell times, and a season-limited events calendar mean fewer people downtown, and fewer opportunities for local businesses to be present at events at Festival Plaza.

To address this, a canopy covering the audience area directly in front of the existing stage is proposed to provide weather protection and outdoor comfort to greatly expand the number and kind of events at Festival Plaza

Canopy wind blocking diagram

Designed for Outdoor Comfort

Working with our environmental engineers, the Canopy design is optimized for outdoor comfort. The shape of the canopy blocks predominant winter winds and allows prevailing summer breezes to naturally condition the space. The skylight features a custom frit-pattern which allows light in but keeps heat out in the summer.
Digital wind simulation diagrams

Wind Simulation

A number of digital wind simulations were conducted to optimize the Canopy geometry to effectively block winter winds and allow summer breezes. This creates a more comfortable microclimate under the canopy that will make Festival Plaza much more comfortable for event goers.
Outdoor comfort diagrams
Plan drawing of canopy design

Designed for Flexibility

Line-of-sight boundaries around the stage establish the structural and programmatic framework for the canopy.  Structural grids are aligned with line-of-sight boundaries to minimize obstructions. Vertical load transfer is positioned around perimeter to maximize unobstructed interior space for programming and security.

Axonometric drawing of canopy 2

Building off the idea of the landscaped islands, three petals form the edges of the canopy structure.

Axonometric drawing of canopy 2

A transparent skylight creates an unobstructed programming space below and serves as a keystone element to support adjacent canopies. A translucent ETFE skylight allows for year-round natural daylighting  of the space, with a custom frit pattern to control solar heat gain during the hottest days of the year.

Capacity Studies

Capacity study 1
Capacity study 2
Capacity study
Capacity study 3
Structural diagram of canopy

Structural Strategy

The canopy is designed as a large arch structure with all of the vertical supporting elements located at the edges of the canopy to maximize the flexibility of the area under the canopy.
Acoustic studies of canopy

Acoustic Optimization

The shape of the Canopy helps disperse sound reflections uniformly to the audience, which improves the direct sound quality. The canopy also provides a reduction of sound trespass from the site.
Section drawing of canopy

Canopy Height

The height of the canopy is driven by two major factors:

A) Clearing the Existing Stage

The canopy is designed to protect the audience from weather, and to not require any alterations to the existing stage. To do so, the canopy must sit above the height of the existing stage structure.

B) Maximize Flexibility

To eliminate columns in the audience area which would impede views and significantly reduce the flexibility of the space, the structure is designed to be column free. The most efficient form to achieve this is an arch, and the height of the canopy is driven by the structural optimization of this form.
ETFE example

ETFE Cushion

ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) film is durable, highly transparent, self-cleaning, and very lightweight in comparison to glass structures. ETFE is being considered the material of choice for traditional skylight applications to long span structures and building facades.
PTFE example

PTFE Membrane

PTFE, or polytetrafluoroethylene, is a coated woven fiberglass membrane that is extremely durable and tolerant of even the most extreme weather elements, with a typical life expectancy of 30 years.
Rendering of canopy from Riverside Drive with Detroit skyline in background


The canopy over the existing audience area will be built using a combination of PTFE-coated fiberglass membrane and EFTE cushion systems. Both are lightweight materials supported by a steel structure. The ETFE skylight filters light to provide natural daylighting under the canopy while PTFE membranes provide large areas of shade.



Material Strategy

These materials were chosen as they address a number of key performance criteria:
  • Natural Light
    ETFE allows natural light into the audience area, making the space bright and attractive all year round unlike more traditional translucent canopies.
  • Acoustic Benefit
    ETFE is comprised of two layers, inflated with air, which has sound insulating qualities
  • Reduced Maintenance & Operations Costs
    ETFE is self-cleaning, reducing maintenance requirements and costs
  • Lightweight
    ETFE is significantly less heavy than glass which reduces the structure required to carry the material.
Proposed technical systems of the canopy

Technical Systems

The Canopy introduces additional technical systems, including rigging position and equipment, chain motors, catwalk, production cable routes, and technical controls. This expands the kind and quality of events that can take place at Festival Plaza, and reduces infrastructure costs for events organizers, further lowering barriers to event hosting

The Canopy is designed to support more than just concerts. The flat floor and supporting infrastructure maximize flexibility, allowing for a wide variety of events and make use of the area under the Canopy.

Rendering of the area under the proposed canopyRendering of the area under the proposed canopy

How other cities use their canopies for more than just concerts

Rollerskating under canopy

Rollerskating at the Shipyards District, North Vancouver, BC

Farmers market under canopy

Matiowski Farmers Market at the Whitecap Pavilion, Kenora ON

Ice skating under canopy

Ice Skating at the Shipyards District, North Vancouver, BC

Exercise under canopy

Exercise classes at the Forks, Winnipeg, MB

Formal event under canopy

Formal event at Simon Fraser University, BC

Artwork hung from Gardiner Expressway

Art at the Bentway, Toronto, ON

Anime Festival under canopy

Anime Festival at Simon Fraser University, BC

Christmas decorations under canopy

Holiday lighting at Potsdamer Platz, Berlin

Rendered section and plan of the support area of the canopy

Supporting Programming

Directly across the stage to the east, the canopy extends downwards to create an enclosed space for administrative functions (e.g. ticketing, security), event audio/visual controls, and a cafe with a 2,500 sqft covered shaded patio. This space supports events programming, and the cafe helps activate the site during non-event times. Tiered seating is integrated with the landscaping berms to the north and south.

In addition to supporting and expanding programming at the site, the canopy is also an opportunity to draw attention and interest from out-of-towners

Hotel View

Festival Plaza is designed to look exciting from the adjacent hotel to help draw people out and explore downtown Windsor

Day View

The canopy is designed to be a prominent presence on the Windsor skyline.

Night View

The canopy is designed with a fully programmable lighting and projection system that can be used to animate the site when seen from a distance.
(Additional details of the site lighting strategy will be released in a future update.)

The Canopy is a crucial component of the overall plan of Festival Plaza to allow for all season programming, lowering barriers to event hosting, and expanding the kinds of events, and number of events, held there.

The results of this public engagement feedback will be presented to Council along with three costing options for the canopy, two of which will account for a phased implementation.

Download the pdf for more information


Part 5

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