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
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.
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.
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.
Building off the idea of the landscaped islands, three petals form the edges of the canopy structure.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
ETFE is significantly less heavy than glass which reduces the structure required to carry the material.
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.
How other cities use their canopies for more than just concerts
Rollerskating at the Shipyards District, North Vancouver, BC
Matiowski Farmers Market at the Whitecap Pavilion, Kenora ON
Ice Skating at the Shipyards District, North Vancouver, BC
Exercise classes at the Forks, Winnipeg, MB
Formal event at Simon Fraser University, BC
Art at the Bentway, Toronto, ON
Anime Festival at Simon Fraser University, BC
Holiday lighting at Potsdamer Platz, Berlin
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
Festival Plaza is designed to look exciting from the adjacent hotel to help draw people out and explore downtown Windsor
The canopy is designed to be a prominent presence on the Windsor skyline.
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.