Porte-cochere using Birdair’s ETFE welcomes guests at expanded casino
Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y., selected Birdair Inc., Williamsville, N.Y., to build the porte-cochere to create a welcoming entrance to the casino in conjunction with its $50 million expansion project. The canopy was designed and engineered by FTL Design Engineering Studio, a New York City-based company that specializes in tensile structure design and construction technologies.
“The entrance to any building, particularly in the entertainment industry, not only has to be inviting, it also has to be exciting,” said David Capezzuto, director of business development, Birdair North America.
The casino renovation and expansion project was designed by Studio V Architecture, New York, N.Y. Jay Valgora, principal and founder says, “At Empire City Casino, we set out to reinvent the modern casino.” That included “a dramatic porte-cochere utilizing exotic structural systems and innovative material.”
The company chose Birdair’s ETFE film (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene), for its aesthetics, performance and sustainability. One of the most lightweight and transparent cladding materials available, ETFE is well suited for roofing and façade construction, particularly in the 11,000-square-foot application for Empire City Casino.
The transparency of the ETFE membrane allows daylight to flow into the space below while providing cover and shade as guests arrive at the casino. Because the film is UV transparent, exposure to the sun won’t discolor or structurally weaken the film. The surface also resists adhesion of airborne pollutants, dust, dirt and chemicals. The lightweight nature of the film itself, as well as the structure required to support it, made ETFE a cost-effective solution, and because it’s recyclable, it also made sense in terms of sustainability.
The project utilizes two-layers known as a cushion system, where a pneumatic system maintains air between the layers of film that are attached in aluminum extrusions and supported by a lightweight structure. It’s these inflated “cushions” that create the unique and dramatic look of the entrance.
Its design was inspired by the unique landscape of the hill-top track at Yonkers Raceway and required a material that could mirror the “flow” of the landscape. Custom-colored LED lighting illuminates the structure for a spectacular transformation at night.
Birdair Inc., a member of the Taiyo Kogyo Group, is a specialty contractor of custom tensile structures. It provides design-build services in project design, fabrication, installation and maintenance.
Photos: Birdair Inc.