Awning Shields 19th Floor Event Space

A retractable awning, installed on the Kimpton boutique hotel in Charlotte, NC, allows year-round use of outdoor space.

The retractable En-Fold awning withstands wind and weather on Charlotte’s front porch.

Charlotte, NC’s, first boutique hotel by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, San Francisco, is the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel. It features an outdoor event space at the building’s rooftop. The building team, consisting of general contractor, Balfour Beatty Construction, Dallas; installer, Southeastern Architectural Systems, Charlotte; and architect, Cooper Carry, Atlanta, requested a retractable canopy that would protect patrons from sun and rain and withstand the high winds that swirl around the 20-story tower. The rooftop lawn, on the 19th floor, is frequently used for weddings and other celebratory gatherings, and it was imperative that the space feature an architecturally pleasing canopy that would ensure continued use of the venue, regardless of the weather.

The event lawn is closed on three sides by a rooftop-restaurant structure and is open to the glass railing on the fourth side, presenting a spectacular view of a nearby park, baseball stadium, and the Western horizon. Thanks to the stunning views, the space is casually referred to as “Charlotte’s front porch.” It was also important to maximize these views and specify and install a system that allowed the setting to speak for itself.

The team determined that an En-Fold stadium-grade retractable-awning system would be the best solution. The pre-engineered, fully automated, retractable fabric system is manufactured by Uni-Systems LLC, Minneapolis.

The system installed at the hotel is on a smaller scale than major stadiums and event spaces and was designed to cover more than 1,500 sq. ft. of outdoor space at the rooftop level when deployed. Due to its strength and engineering, the awning can remain open in winds as high as 90 mph and handle snow loads as high as 30 psf, allowing it to meet the weather-resistance requirements.

When the weather is clear, the awning retracts and disappears, allowing patrons to enjoy the open-air space.

“En-Fold provided a unique, high-design solution for the rooftop event space,” stated T. Jack Bagby, associate principal with Cooper Carry. “When deployed, the system is able to shade the space during the hottest portion of the day and it provides some insurance and security for events against mild inclement weather. When closed, it doesn’t detract from the overall aesthetic.”

The awning complements the space and the overall hotel design, which is elegant and fluid, echoing the nearby cosmopolitan area and neighboring structure, and nodding to the sweeping form of [neighboring] Romare Bearden Park. “We worked with The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry to create a warm and inviting space that focused on the incredible surrounding views,” Bagby added.

En-Fold stadium-grade retractable awnings are available in a wide range of sizes and configurations to achieve a specific aesthetic and to accommodate various site conditions and sizes. Its versatility means that it can be retrofitted or sequenced with new construction into virtually any outdoor open space. The system can be designed with extensions to 100 ft. and nearly unlimited widths.   

In terms of operation, the awnings are deployed and retracted quietly at the push of a button that activates 3/4-hp drive motors that are securely fastened to the system’s high-strength aluminum drive beams. The sensor-based and synchronized drive system applies a precise level of biaxial pretension to the fabric membrane to ensure that deployment is smooth and seamless. The system offers unimpeded views to the sky, when retracted, thanks to its wide drive-beam configuration.

The En-Fold canopy at the Kimpton has an extension of 26 ft. 9 in. and is 63-ft. wide. The four aluminum drive beams are attached to the wall at one end and dramatically cantilever 6 ft. beyond the 66-ft.-long transfer beam from which they hang on the opposite side. Seven aluminum extrusions support the Sefar Architecture Tenara 4T40 fabric that provides weather protection.

The canopy has an extension of 26 ft. 9 in. and is 63-ft. wide. It uses Sefar Architecture Tenara 4T40 fabric to provide weather protection.

The major components of the system were delivered to the site while the tower crane was still in place. They then needed to be protected and stored on the rooftop for slightly more than a year until construction of the surrounding areas could be completed. Due to the fact that awning was to be installed on a windy, 19th-floor site, it had to be delivered before the crane was removed. Coordination and schedule sequencing from all parties made this possible.

When construction reached a point that installation was possible, installers from Southeastern Architectural Systems, Charlotte, set the drive beams and other major components into place. Six months later, construction on the building was far enough along that a Uni-Systems technician was able to return to the site and oversee the completion of the project. “The Uni-Systems team ensured everything went smoothly from design through installation,” stated Bagby.

The awning system is the result of the company’s 40+ years of experience designing, engineering, and integrating innovative large-scale kinetic structures. Uni-Systems has designed, fabricated, and installed the mechanization components for several retractable stadium roofs, including Reliant Stadium, Minute Maid Park, Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, Cowboys Stadium, and Marlins Ballpark.

This expertise made possible the smaller, lightweight, high-performance, and adaptable En-Fold system which as been used at several upscale restaurants, shopping malls, hotels, resorts, and entertainment and event venues.


Cooper Carry architects
Southeastern Architectural Systems
Balfour Beatty Construction
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants


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