JTI Companies Inc. fabricated 67 FRP tubes support 80 different Florida plant species in a hanging garden display at the Perez Art Museum in Miami.

Even before visitors to the Pérez Art Museum Miami walk through its doors to admire more than 1,800 pieces of modern and contemporary art, they are treated to an artistic masterpiece. The 200,000-square-foot museum, opened in downtown Miami in December 2013, features hanging gardens all around the building. JTI Companies Inc. in Birmingham, Ala., fabricated a superstructure comprising seven chambers with 67 FRP tubes that descend from a canopy and hold 80 different plant species native to Florida. The lush, green flowering vertical gardens are breathtaking.

JTI was brought into the museum project by the architect of record, Handel Architects, whose primary concern was that the gardens could withstand hurricane winds. “When they approached us, they had a conceptual drawing with some lines coming down in a vertical garden, but they did not have any specific technology in place,” says Jason Brough, president of JTI. “They were considering alloys and other materials that were cost-prohibitive. But the driving factors were selecting a material that could stand up to 146 mph winds and resist saltwater corrosion.”

Founded in 1990, JTI’s commercial division focuses on large architectural projects. One of the reasons clients choose the company is because it offers both composites fabrication and metalworking. “That combination allows us to do the ‘hard-to-dos’ – the projects that are unique and people think can’t be done,” says Brough. Projects like the hanging gardens.

As the delegated engineer for the museum project, JTI designed and fabricated a complete structural support system for all seven chambers of the vertical gardens. Each chamber features eight to 11 custom FRP tubes. “It looks like a set of wind chimes,” says Brough. “The only difference is these tubes are 18 inches in diameter and anywhere from 28 ½ to 51 feet long.” JTI devised a laminate structure that would bend, but not break, under hurricane strength winds. The tubes are constructed of matte woven roving and C-veil fiberglass, Hardwire® high-strength twisted steel wires and K022-AA epoxy vinyl ester resin from AOC.