Connor Steinkamp, Steinkamp Photography

Solar Canopy / EV Dock



Thornton Tomasetti provided structural engineering and steel detailing for an award-winning 11-foot-tall solar canopy / EV dock consisting of 6,000 pounds of architecturally exposed structural steel. The prototype structure, designed to harvest solar energy to power electric / hybrid vehicles, is composed of a tree-like steel superstructure that can support up to 900 pounds of solar equipment, a 300-square-foot canopy featuring photovoltaic panels, and a subterranean concrete foundation anchoring the structure to the ground.

Thornton Tomasetti designed all of the solar canopy’s structural components and connections, providing a cost-efficient structural design without compromising the architectural aesthetics. By utilizing 3D CAD and 3D analysis to design the compound curves in the smallest diameter pipes possible, the structure attained a graceful appearance that limits encroachments on parking spaces. The minimization of bolted connections in favor of welds contributed to the project’s elegant design. Thornton Tomasetti sought to decrease field work by performing as much of the fabrication in the steel shop as possible, which helped to reduce costs and allow for better quality control of the end product.

From concept to working prototype, the solar canopy design was completed in 25 days.

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