Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A couple of nights ago, I once again came across a design /architectural question regarding a roadside rest area and sent a quick email with attached photos to Joanna Dowling at www.restareahistory.com

As usual she promptly replied with an answer. The question basically revolves around the shelter design at a picnic area on highway 287 east of Wichita Falls, TX at a town called Jolly. Jolly is not much more than a truck stop and a small manufacturing plant at a crossroads, but here there is a spur off highway 287 (State Spur 47) and along that spur sits this roadside park.

The unique design of the picnic shelters here, sparked my question for Ms Dowling. Having no background in architecture or design, I rely entirely on things I have either read or heard or can research to have even the most basic of understanding of structures I observe.

As I explained to Ms. Dowling, I thought I remembered someone telling me way back when, that a structure of this type was called a hyperbolic paraboloid. I had absolutely know idea what that meant or what a design of that type entailed, but it sounded good, so I remembered it. Over the years, I had seen these picnic shelters sitting alongside 287 and wondered if they were indeed hyperbolic (or paraboloid…i…cal?) by design? Ms. Dowling confirmed my amateurish assumption and sent a couple of expert comments, which follow:

She said, “I think you are accurate with the hyperbolic paraboloid assessment, which generally refers to a structure with opposing planes as a means of articulating weight transfer, but does not specifically have to be this form.” Ms. Dowling included a very helpful link (just google Felix Candela) which depicted this form and refered to it as an “umbrella” shape. She then goes ahead and suggests that it would be accurate to describe these shelter structures as an “inverted umbrella” shape as a way of describing ”(their) upward projecting planes.” Man, do I ever love that description. That sounds like poetry to me.

So, here are my photos of the “inverted umbrella-shaped, hyperbolic paraboloids” that provide shade and shelter to the traveling public along highway 287 at Jolly, Texas.