You are not logged in

DCD Design Cost Data

Birdair Reimagines Entertainment with Breathtaking Tensile Membrane Amphitheater

Birdair Reimagines Entertainment with Breathtaking Tensile Membrane Amphitheater

Posted: September 1, 2023 | Tradewinds

Birdair, Inc., the world’s leading specialty contractor for custom tensile membrane structures for over 60 years, recently completed work on The Sound Amphitheater at Coachman Park, a 4,000-seat covered outdoor entertainment venue in Clearwater, Fla. In partnership with the world-class teams of Skanska and Stantec, Birdair has worked over the last two years to design and construct this groundbreaking new 50,300 sq.ft. tensile membrane structure, the main attraction of Imagine Clearwater. An $84 million redevelopment project 23 years in the making, Clearwater’s Coachman Park opened to the public on June 28.

The Birdair team was tasked with designing a light, airy roof that looks aesthetically pleasing and visually engaging both for the performances it will host and simply as part of the park setting. A 14-man Birdair installation crew completed the work, with support from Iron Workers Local 397 in Tampa. The entire team worked in tandem with concrete trades, underground civils, electricians and more to turn Imagine Clearwater’s vision into a reality.

JT Thomas, Director of Construction, Birdair, said The Sound Amphitheater was one of the more challenging yet rewarding installations he’s worked on over the course of his career.

“The Sound Amphitheater is the result of a tremendous effort from our crew to deal with evolving site conditions from installation to completion,” Thomas said. “With a complex project like this, the coordination between engineering, fabrication and installation had to be exact. We’re proud of the structure we built and look forward to seeing the amphitheater become a destination for Clearwater residents and visitors across the country.”

The amphitheater features over a million pounds of structural steel shipped on a total of 77 flatbed trucks, with Tensotherm™ insulated panels in the three center sections of the roof for enhanced acoustics. The white painted steel includes close to 40,000 fasteners, with an additional 100,000 on the five catwalks. With a manta ray-inspired design to reflect the Clearwater ecosystem, the amphitheater is 88 feet high at the center, and its width is comparable to the size of a suspended football field. Other than the steel truss lacing, every aspect of the structure is in a curve or bisecting curve – what may look like a straight arch to the naked eye actually arches up and out to the east or west.

Four mega columns support the entire load of the structure, which is designed to withstand inclement weather, including hurricanes. A spiral staircase leads to catwalks that enables access to the amphitheater’s lighting, sound, audio-visual system and more. As part of the redevelopment project, Birdair also constructed 16 PVC Quasar model shade canopies throughout the park.

“From seeing visitors take shade under the many PVC canopies scattered throughout the park to enjoying the first concert under the manta-ray design of the ‘The Sound’ tensile amphitheater, the Imagine Clearwater project has been magical to say the least,” said Michele Roth Taylor, Business Development Manager and Director of Marketing, Birdair. “From where it all started to where it is now is a true testament to the project team’s vision and dedication to design and build this extraordinary park and 50,000 sq.ft. amphitheater, an engineering feat. Birdair is extremely honored to be part of this incredible accomplishment for the City of Clearwater.”

Normally used for insulating purposes, Birdair’s signature Tensotherm tensile fabric composite system was specified as an open-air roofing system for the very first time at The Sound Amphitheater due to its unique acoustical benefits. After an acoustical analysis of membranes that would best fit the space, a combination of Tensotherm and a single layer of PTFE-coated fiberglass panels was found to be the perfect fit for the amphitheater’s acoustical requirements.
The world’s first and only translucent and insulated tensile fabric roofing material, Tensotherm is ideal where significant acoustic dampening is desired or required. With a Tensotherm roof, even the din of a large and cavernous space, like a gymnasium or arena, can be made to sound more like an intimate living room setting. Tensotherm can block out the sound of a jet taking off or hold the sound of a rock concert inside.

Tensotherm’s remarkable sound attenuation ability is due to its aerogel core and interior PTFE-coated acoustical membrane liner. Additional benefits of Tensotherm include diffused glare-free natural daylight; enhanced temperature control, even in the most extreme environments; and innovative sustainability.

PTFE-coated fiberglass tensile membrane can be installed in climates ranging from the frigid arctic to the scorching desert heat with an expected project life exceeding 30 years. Its unique combination of inertness, thermal stability and surface properties make Birdair’s PTFE-coated fabric membrane ideal for projects requiring superior weather and fire resistance. The principal element that differentiates PTFE fiberglass membrane from conventional glazing is its advantageous shading coefficient – in very warm climates, even low lighting levels make PTFE fiberglass membrane an energy saver versus conventional systems. 
Now that it’s completed, The Sound Amphitheater will play host to several concerts headlined by famous musicians such as The Goo Goo Dolls, Kenny Loggins, and Billy Currington. It’s also expected to host graduations, community events and more.

Designed to connect the waterfront to the downtown Clearwater community, Imagine Clearwater also includes an expansive park and recreational spaces, a gateway plaza and bluff walk that connects the park to downtown, a bay walk promenade overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and a lake area with picnic shelters.

A full-service design-build contractor for tensile architecture, Birdair features a comprehensive range of pre-construction services including design assistance, budgeting, construction methodologies and project schedule development. Birdair’s in-house capabilities include design development, engineering, fabrication, construction (installation) and service and warranty services.

For more information on Birdair’s innovative roofing systems, canopies and skylights, visit and follow Birdair on Facebook and LinkedIn.

About Birdair
Birdair, Inc., is the leading specialty design build contractor of custom tensile structures around the world. In addition to pre-construction services such as design assistance, budgeting, construction methodologies and project scheduling, Birdair provides design-build solutions in all aspects of project design, fabrication, installation and maintenance. The company offers a selection of architectural fabric membranes, including PTFE fiberglass, TensoSky® ETFE film, PVC and Tensotherm™, an insulated tensioned membrane system. Birdair, based in Buffalo, NY, is a member of the Taiyo Kogyo Group, with operations serving North and South America and other international locations. For more information about Birdair, call 1-800-622-2246 or visit