I am starting to see charging stations for electric cars. A neighbor who is fortunate to own two electric cars manufactured by Tesla has his charging station in his garage. However, if he wants to travel between cities along well-traveled highways in North America, Tesla “superchargers” allow him to travel for free. 86 stations are strategically placed to allow owners to drive from station to station with minimal stops. The superchargers can provide half a charge in as little as 20 minutes.
Recently, a nearby village installed a charger in a parking lot next to a multi-modal transportation hub. The charger fits under a canopy with solar panels on top.
In 2009, we were contacted to curve pipe for a demonstration electric-car-charging station. The firm that contacted us was the celebrated international firm of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. The firm wanted to consult with us on a design for a canopy that would use solar panels to generate electric power to charge the electric cars parked underneath.
Chicago Metal Rolled Products was consulted on the multi-radius bending of the pipe supporting the solar canopy. The space defined by the curved pipe had to allow for parking cars of various size and shape without any obstruction by the pipe supporting the canopy. But then the pipes also had to spread out to support the solar panel assembly above. The result is an aesthetically pleasing organic design. Perhaps we will see more of this design as the units continue to spring up around the country.
The project became part of Chicago’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. The city wanted to show how “green” it was by installing the solar canopy in one of its parks, Douglas Park. The project became a rush job as the date for the dignitaries to visit the site approached. Up until the critical day, elements of the project were being assembled. Some months after the demonstration, the solar canopy was moved to Northerly Island, a new park created on Chicago’s lakefront when Miegs Field Airport was closed. The canopy is available to provide service to this very day.
The design was the 2013 IDEAS2 Merit Award Winner for the competition sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC).