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Birdair’s TensoSky® ETFE Film to Add Style to Skylights at University Rec Center

Birdair’s TensoSky® ETFE Film to Add Style to Skylights at University Rec Center

Posted: November 30, 2023 | Tradewinds

Birdair, Inc., the world’s leading specialty contractor for custom tensile membrane structures for over 65 years, is bringing a unique blend of beauty and protection to Michigan State University’s (MSU) new Student Recreation and Wellness Center with its next-generation TensoSky® ETFE film. Approximately 12,300 square feet of Birdair’s ETFE film will be used along with support steel to form 33 three-layer cushions at the multi-use facility, to infill three atrium skylights.

Birdair’s scope for the project includes design, engineering, fabrication and installation of the ETFE film and some supporting structural steel. Construction on the facility began in July, with anticipated completion of the transparent ETFE film cushions scheduled for fall 2024. Overall, substantial completion is slated for February 2026.

“Birdair is excited to design and install our signature TensoSky ETFE film at Michigan State University’s beautiful new Student Recreation and Wellness Center,” said Tom Connell, Project Executive, Birdair. “We take pride in the fact that students will now be able to access their recreation and fitness needs at a state-of-the-art venue under our durable, sustainable atrium skylights.”

The project team includes Moody Nolan, the largest African American-owned design firm in the country; ROSSETTI, a Detroit-based collective of studios with expertise in architecture, planning, interiors and analytics; Arup, a global collective of designers, consultants and experts dedicated to sustainable development; and Granger Construction, a leading firm that specializes in higher ed, commercial, industrial and healthcare construction projects.

ETFE film is durable, highly transparent and very lightweight compared to glass structures. It’s considered the material of choice for everything from traditional skylight applications to long span structures and building facades. When designing a structure that stands out from the crowd, few building materials can match ETFE’s impact or presence. Benefits of ETFE film include exceptional light transmission (from 90-95%), solar control and shading, elasticity, longevity and more. In addition, ETFE film provides approximately 70% acoustic transmission, helps reduce a project’s carbon footprint and can be easily recycled or remolded into new ETFE products such as tubing components, wires or castings.

MSU’s new Student Recreation and Wellness Center will include several gymnasiums and multi-activity courts, a turf arena, indoor running track, strength and fitness studios, a climbing wall, sports simulators, two university classrooms, and locker and toilet rooms to meet gender-inclusive needs. It will also include a 50-meter recreational pool that can support simultaneous uses including courses, water fitness and open swimming.

The 293,000-square-foot addition is putting sustainability into practice through water conservation, carbon emission reductions, passive design strategies and more. The new space will replace the Intramural Recreative Sports West building with a modern structure and facilities that address student recreation and fitness needs with an eye toward future development.

A full-service design-build specialty contractor for tensile architecture, Birdair offers 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

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