Each week, some 2,300 families benefit from the services of the Arlington Food Assistance Center in Arlington VA. Since 1988, non-profit AFAC’s goal has been to promote and provide “dignified access to nutritious food” for those who need to supplement their groceries.
Supporting that goal is a 2018 renovation of the 30-year-old facility, which includes warehouse and distribution areas as well as the grocery. The renovation was by Inscape Publico, an architectural firm dedicated to affordable professional design for non-profits and is a sister firm to Inscape Studio in Washington D.C.
Included in the renovation is a translucent canopy engineered by Duo-Gard. It plays an important role, according to Inscape principal Gregory Kearley, AIA LEED AP. “The canopy covers the primary entrance to AFAC, affording protection from the weather as people queue up outside,” he says. It also demonstrates dignity and respect for the people AFAC serves.
“We wanted a translucent structure that would allow light to enter the space and so those waiting would be exposed to natural light,” Kearley says. The architects chose Duo-Gard’s patented Sleekline canopy, a contemporary, low-profile system glazed for this project with ¼” white solid-sheet polycarbonate in clear anodized aluminum framing. The Sleekline canopy is integrated into an existing steel substructure.
The monolithic polycarbonate provides a high degree of diffused natural light as it minimizes the sun’s glare and heat gain. The front face of the L-shaped canopy is 31’ feet wide by 10’ deep and angles around the building’s corner to another 17’6” by 10’ depth.
Creating the canopy’s angles was a challenge. “The level of accuracy required close collaboration among Duo-Gard’s engineering team, the installer and the general contractor’s team at Tech 24 Construction. Careful considerations were made during the engineering process, including detail and dimension coordination with the contractor. The geometry of the angles meant the measurements had to be exact,” says Joe Furton, engineering manager for Duo-Gard’s architectural division. “Such collaboration emphasizes one of Sleekline’s many advantages, which we bring to each of our projects.”
Other Sleekline advantages include long panel lengths, free-flow panel ends without channels that block water flow and a design that allows the canopy to be almost flat without water pooling.
Architect Kearley says the choice of polycarbonate was influenced by the material’s durability and low maintenance. It has 250 times the impact strength of glass and is virtually shatterproof.
Like all Duo-Gard structures, the Sleekline canopies are engineered for region-specific wind and snow loads.
“I’ve heard nothing but positive comments from the AFAC staff, the volunteers and the people they serve,” Kearley says.
Photos Courtesy of Tech 24 Construction