Harley's Fabric Duct Looks Like Leather

March 20, 2006
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Fabric duct was placed inside Mike’s Famous Harley-Davidson store to lend, in part, a contrast to the hardness of the steel grating, corrugated metal roofing, metal window frames, concrete sales floor, and other hard-surfaced building materials.
SMYRNA, Del. - Things are looking up for the newest Mike's Famous Harley-Davidson Inc. dealership, in Smyrna, Del. Things are literally looking up at the 28,000-square-foot store, where designer Steve Ward put as much emphasis at the top of the store as he did on the showroom floor.

A 30-foot-diameter, three-story-high glass silo rises majestically through a balcony-like mezzanine, drawing the eye upward to many enshrined motorcycles.

Lighting and HVAC ductwork are critical to Ward's concept of a total store aesthetic. Therefore, the design consortium of Ward (a principal at Designwork Studios, Santa Ana, Calif.), mechanical-electrical-plumbing consulting engineer Dan Blake (principal, Blake & Vaughan, Wilmington, Del.), and architect John Dobraniecki (Design Collaborative Inc., Wilmington), all incorporated owner Mike Schwartz's recommendation of fabric ductwork into the store design.

Schwartz had seen DuctSox (Dubuque, Iowa) fabric duct in other applications and thought its clean lines would complement the store's unique appearance. He chose premium matte duct finish SedonaSM in black.

"The aesthetics of the DuctSox have been positively received by our customers and it complements the overall upscale appearance of our first-class dealership," said Schwartz, who founded the company 11 years ago with its first store in New Castle, Del.

Harley Davidson dealerships typically sport an industrial look with open, architectural ceilings. In the Mike's Famous application, the lightweight, streamlined linear diffusers of fabric duct were an alternative to the spiraling ridges and protruding diffusers of round metal duct. Color-wise, the black fabric perimeter system on the main floor and the mezzanine offer a neutral tone to the store's earthy colors of bronze, beige, and brown.

"Fabric duct complements and lends a soft contrast to the hardness of the steel grating, corrugated metal roofing, metal window frames, concrete sales floor, and other hard-surfaced building materials we used to create an industrial architectural theme throughout the store," said Ward.

What's more, the black fabric surface looks a lot like black leather - like round ductwork wearing a black leather jacket. This must appeal to a large percentage of the store's clientele.

Lighting and HVAC ductwork are critical to owner Mike Schwartz’s concept of his Harley dealership’s total aesthetic. A design consortium included mechanical-electrical-plumbing consulting engineer Dan Blake, of Blake & Vaughan, Wilmington, Del.


While the main impetus is aesthetics, Blake's fabric duct specification also produced significant savings in the project's HVAC materials and labor costs, he said. Fabric duct is less expensive in material costs than the alternate choice of double-walled insulated spiral duct.

The fabric duct was factory engineered for Blake's airflow specifications. Manufacturer's representative Del-Ren Associates, Collingswood, N.J., helped facilitate the order.

Berry Refrigeration, a Newark, Del.-based HVAC service company, installed the fabric duct in approximately half the time of metal duct, said company president Paul Perna. This helped save labor costs and fast-track the project. Berry used H-track hanging rails, which the product snaps into. The rails are then hidden from view.

It was Berry's first experience with fabric duct. Perna said he expects to use the technology again in future design-build applications for retail, industrial, and commercial projects.

The installed ductwork is supplied by several of the project's eight Carrier Corp. (Syracuse, N.Y.) rooftop systems. The rooftop units also provide heating, but because the store's design includes a wall of windows, Blake also specified Q-Mark (Bennettsville, S.C.) electric baseboard. The baseboards, which range from 2.5 to 5 kW each, help offset heat loss during winter months.

Other equipment used on the project included Greenheck (Schofield, Wis.) exhaust fans, which range from 75 to 6,000 cfm.

The fabric duct can be disassembled and commercially laundered, the manufacturer pointed out. The dealership said store staff will launder the duct as part of routine store cleanings.

According to Schwartz, the dealership's 40,000-square-foot anchor store in New Castle is the largest seller of new Harleys® in the United States. It has won the motorcycle manufacturer's prestigious Bar & Shield Circle of Excellence Award for nine consecutive years. The award is based on many retail categories including facilities and operation measures.

Publication date: 03/20/2006

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