Big Span Structures Goes Hybrid

CEM first introduced our readers to Big Span Structures in March 2011 upon completion of the company’s 70-by-100 foot open-span frame-supported fabric structure in Tallapoosa County, Ala. Commissioned by Creek Indian Enterprises for PCI Gaming, the project took just six weeks from order to completion, and was a smashing success for the gaming enterprise and for Big Span.

As 2011 is coming to a close and 2012 is just on our heels, CEM checked back in with this Florida-based company to see what is new and upcoming. Talking with Timothy Nee, VP of the frame structures division and co-owner at Big Span Structures, we learned that Big Span is completing a large 50,000-square-foot remediation building for the Department of Energy and URS Corp. in Albany, N.Y., at the Knolls Atomic Power Labs. They are also working on fabricating a 350 foot wide by 600 foot long and 140 foot high mining building in Northern Quebec for TATA Steel. Other recent installations include a shelter for the DEA in Port Everglades, Fla., as well as a salt storage dome for the Arkansas Department of Transportation in Fort Smith, Ark.

But what was most exciting to learn about was Big Span’s new “hybrid” building system. “After finding success with two recent installations of frame-supported fabric casino buildings, our Big Span Structures team decided to analyze the difference between high-end conventional casino construction and their breed of rapid fabric structure construction applications and needs,” Nee explained. “What we found is that most customers would like to have the architectural curb appeal of a posh casino building with the cost savings in time and construction of our product.”

As a result, the Big Span team developed a concept with the staff architect that incorporates the stunning aesthetics of a grand casino entrance, with the remaining majority of the unseen building consisting of its cost-effective structural frame and fabric system. To the casino customer, the transition from the grand casino facade to the exquisite inside workings is seamless. “Because we engineer our buildings to be capable of clear-spanning up to 400-plus feet with an almost unlimited interior hanging load option, we open the opportunity to most any architectural internal design and configuration desired,” Nee said.

The guiding force for coming up with this concept was to hopefully remove the stigma of a tent-type building. Casinos that would buy the fabric structures as a temporary solution until they could move forward with a glamorous conventional building can turn to Big Span’s new system to solve their problem. As with all of Big Span’s work, the biggest advantages are the rapid fabrication and construction with major cost savings, as well as Big Span’s top engineering.

There are similar products in the market, but Nee says the Big Span difference is that their product can clear-span much further than most competitors, as well as accommodate heavy interior hanging loads. “We pride ourselves on our engineering and providing solutions to our customer’s needs and desires,” he said.

Nee says Big Span has received a lot of interest and excitement about the concept. What’s so remarkable is how it can provide the curb appeal of a Vegas casino landmark at one-tenth of the cost.

“In 2011, we did about $13 million in business and have increased our employee base to about 45,” Nee commented. “In 2012 and beyond, we would like to look at expanding our manufacturing facilities to accommodate several projects at once.”

Other initiatives we can expect from Big Span, according to Nee, is not just in new casino interest, but also in remediation, amphitheaters and industrial structures. “Our pressurized fabric buildings are also answering to the sport and entertainment sector,” he added.

But one thing remains the same—the one thing Big Span wants to leave you with: “We pride ourselves on thinking out-of-the-box and are ready to meet any client’s desires with the highest standards of engineering and manufacturing.”

There is a lot more to look forward to from the company that offers a full turnkey building system, which has now gone hybrid.