The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 3, 2000


A Carlisle Connection to the new Hayden Planetarium in New York City

TriPyramid, the company headed by Tim Eliassen of Virginia Farme Lane, played a major role in the new Hayden Planetarium in New York City. The American Museum of Natural History's new Rose Center for Earth and Space has just opened, with great media attention. The building is a giant sphere, 87 feet in diameter, enclosed in a seven-story high glass box. Eliassen's company, TriPyramid Structures, Inc., in Westford, provided the network of fine stainless steel rods and polished stainless hardware which holds up the huge panes of glass of the cube.

In the past Eliassen was president of a local sailboat mast rigging company, Navtec, Inc., in Littleton, when I.M. Pei approached the company in 1987 to help with the structure for his glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Eliassen worked with the design and construction teams to provide the Louvre pyramid's tension support structure, a network of 3,800 stainless steel rod assemblies based on Navtec's sailing yacht rigging system.

In 1989, Eliassen and a partner who had been Navtec's engineering manager, started a new company, TriPyramid, to focus on applying the technology they had developed for yacht rigging to architecture structures. They have since been involved in many projects, from giant glass sculptures to trend-setting buildings around the world, which use stainless steel tension technology in their structures. TriPyramid's elements are much smaller and more elegant aesthetically than bulkier traditional support schemes.

When the Polshek Partnership of New York, the architects for the new planetarium building, conceived of the glass box, they turned to Eliassen's company early in the design phase. Eliassen worked with the architect and a structural engineer to design the trusses to support the glass cube, and then TriPyramid was designated as the supplier of the components.

The glass cube is supported by horizontal trusses which provide wind bracing for the huge water white glass panes, and vertical rods which carry the dead weight of the glass. The trusses are connected to large steel structural columns by TriPyramid-designed castings. One of the features of the glass box which is made possible by TriPyramid's contribution is the corners, which are completely transparent, with the glass panes butting each other, and supported by stainless steel hardware.

Eliassen has attended the opening of the new Space Show in the planetarium sphere, and says that the exhibits and space show are as exciting as the new building. A visit there should be on the "must" list for any trip to New York, no matter your age.

An additional note of Carlisle interest is the number of recent college and high school graduates who have been employed for a time at TriPyramid.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito