VW building 60,000-square-foot 'tent' for event

VW building 60,000-square-foot 'tent' for event

August 13th, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Construction begins on a temporary building to house a worldwide conference of VW's top leaders on the site of the company's Chattanooga manufacturing plant at the Enterprise South industrial park in this file photo.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.



Volkswagen is rolling out the red carpet for a meeting in Chattanooga of its top managers worldwide in September and putting up a temporary 60,000-square-foot structure just for the event.

VW is raising the pavilion next to its Chattanooga assembly plant where it will host the 225 top global VW officials, managers and their wives.

"For a temporary structure, I was impressed," Dallas Rucker, building official for the city, said Friday as he looked at blueprints of the structure going up off Volkswagen Drive.

Rucker estimated the pavilion at about 60,000-square-feet in size, and plans indicate it will hold a stage, kitchen, toilets and a bar. Rucker said smaller tented units are to be put up outside the main pavilion.

Workers already have installed about 30-foot-high steel beams to support the roof. Rucker said the pavilion will be sheathed in fabric to protect people from the elements and allow it to be climate controlled.

According to VW, the pavilion will be torn down within days after the September meeting as the structure is going up specifically for the conference.

"It won't be there shortly afterwards," VW spokesman Scott Wilson said.

Rucker said the company hired to do the pavilion work, Eventstar Structures of Medley, Fla., put up a similar facility in Miami Beach for VW. Eventstar's website said that structure featured 100,000-square-feet of "tensioned fabric" and handled the world debut of Audi's 2011 A8. Audi is a subsidiary of Volkwagen AG.

The video touts that VW premiered the car "under one of the most impressive temporary structures ever built."

According to VW, the conference of top managers is expected to include VW Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn, board members and top managers.

Winterkorn told reporters at the Chattanooga plant's grand opening in May that VW is holding the conference to show the managers what's possible in the U.S. for the German car company.

"We are very strongly committed to the U.S.," the CEO said.

Wilson declined to say how much VW is spending on the pavilion, but he said no government money is going into it.

While some city building permits are still pending as of Friday, one permit on file shows that East Tennessee Grading Co. put in footings for the facility with a contract value of $35,000.

Gerry Melendez of Eventstar declined to comment Friday on the project.

Mike Holland, president of Chattanooga Tent Co., said his company has worked for VW and he flew to a bid meeting on the pavilion. But he elected not to pursue the project, given its size and complexity.

"It's very uncommon for a tent structure," he said. "It's specially engineered and designed."

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