Sign up
Title:
Support Structure And Building Including Same
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to support structures including truss assemblies and purlins, the truss assemblies including struts, wherein utilities such as pipes and cables can be contained within the purlins, and can pass through openings in the struts, to thereby be retained by the support structures so as to be hidden from view.


Inventors:
Backus, Karl (Emeryville, CA, US)
Bradley, George (San Francisco, CA, US)
Eliassen, Tim (Sunapee, NH, US)
Gudgel, Timothy W. (Palo Alto, CA, US)
Hazard, Scott David (Campbell, CA, US)
Krueger, Holger (Schwabmuenchen, DE)
Marchewka, Marcin (London, GB)
Mulhern, Michael (Westford, MA, US)
O'brien, Patrick (West Nyack, NY, US)
O'callaghan, James (Winchester, GB)
Zhang, Yutang (Beijing City, CN)
Application Number:
13/107118
Publication Date:
04/26/2012
Filing Date:
05/13/2011
Assignee:
Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/173.1, 52/633, 52/639, 52/831
International Classes:
E04B7/10; E04B1/32; E04C3/02; E04C3/38; E04H14/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20100071310Method of Assembling Building Integrated Photovoltaic Conversion SystemMarch, 2010Brescia et al.
20040255532SHED LEVELING SYSTEMDecember, 2004Ritter et al.
20090025315Apparatus for Supplying Power to Building Using Solar Power SourceJanuary, 2009Gutfleisch
20020083675Connections to make foldable structuresJuly, 2002Hoberman
20090320392WALL LEADTHROUGH FOR LEADING A LINE THROUGH A BUILDING WALLDecember, 2009Nowoczin et al.
20040148876Sound barrierAugust, 2004Mcmanus et al.
20020083658Block systemJuly, 2002Ted Jr.
20080313986Collar for increasing T-ratings and performance of firestop systemsDecember, 2008Spais
20070125013Finishing system for wall openingsJune, 2007Prince
20050115185Masonry block constructions with polymeric coatingJune, 2005Telford et al.
20070157530Plastic utility shed roof systemJuly, 2007Uffner et al.
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A support structure, comprising: a top truss chord extending in a first direction and including end portions, wherein the top truss chord curves downwardly; a bottom truss chord including end portions, wherein the end portions of the bottom truss chord are coupled to the end portions of the top truss chord, and wherein the bottom truss chord curves upwardly; a strut extending between and coupled to the top truss chord and the bottom truss chord; and a purlin extending in a second direction, wherein the purlin is coupled to an upper portion of the strut.

2. The support structure of claim 1, wherein the top truss chord comprises a pair of top truss beams spaced apart from each other, each top truss beam spanning the length of the top truss chord.

3. The support structure of claim 2, wherein the strut extends between the top truss beams and is coupled thereto.

4. The support structure of claim 1, wherein the purlin comprises a pair of purlin beams spaced apart from each other, each purlin beam spanning the length of the purlin.

5. The support structure of claim 4, wherein the strut extends between the purlin beams and is coupled thereto.

6. The support structure of claim 4, wherein the strut defines an opening therethrough, the opening being positioned between the purlin beams.

7. The support structure of claim 6, further comprising utilities extending within the purlin and through the opening.

8. The support structure of claim 4, further comprising a lighting element disposed between the purlin beams.

9. The support structure of claim 1, further comprising a support coupled to the purlin and configured to support at least a portion of at least one curved panel.

10. The support structure of claim 9, wherein the support comprises a tee support, and wherein the tee support is configured to extend between and support adjacent curved panels.

11. A purlin, comprising: a pair of purlin beams positioned apart from each other so as to define a space therebetween, each purlin beam spanning the length of the purlin; a cover plate extending between the purlin beams at a lower portion thereof; and utilities extending within the space, disposed above the cover plate.

12. The purlin of claim 11, further comprising a strut disposed between the purlin beams, wherein the utilities extend through an opening defined by the strut.

13. The purlin of claim 11, further comprising a lighting track coupled to the cover plate.

14. A glass roof, comprising: a glass roof panel extending in a longitudinal direction; a purlin disposed below the roof panel and extending in the longitudinal direction, wherein the purlin is coupled to and supports the roof panel; and a truss assembly disposed below the purlin and extending in a transverse direction, wherein the truss assembly is coupled to and supports the purlin.

15. The glass roof of claim 14, wherein the roof panel is curved.

16. The glass roof of claim 14, further comprising a plurality of glass roof panels, wherein each glass roof panel is positioned adjacent at least one other glass roof panel, and wherein each glass roof panel is curved such that the plurality of glass roof panels defines a curved glass roof surface.

17. The glass roof of claim 14, wherein the purlin comprises a pair of purlin beams spaced apart from each other, each purlin beam spanning the length of the purlin.

18. The glass roof of claim 17, further comprising a strut disposed between the purlin beams and coupled thereto.

19. The glass roof of claim 18, wherein the strut defines an opening therethrough, the opening being positioned between the purlin beams and configured to receive utilities.

20. The glass roof of claim 14, further comprising a lighting element disposed between the purlin beams.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/406,395, filed Oct. 25, 2010, which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference thereto.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a support structure for a building. More particularly, the present invention relates to a roof and associated support structure, where the support structure can accommodate utilities so as to hide them from view.

2. Brief Summary of the Invention

The present invention provides a support structure for supporting a glass structure, the support structure including a top truss chord extending in a first direction and including end portions, a bottom truss chord including end portions, wherein the end portions of the bottom truss chord are coupled to the end portions of the top truss chord, a strut including an upper portion and a lower portion, wherein the upper portion of the strut is coupled to the top truss chord and wherein the lower portion of the strut is coupled to the bottom truss chord, a purlin extending in a second direction, wherein the purlin is coupled to the upper portion of the strut, and a support coupled to the purlin and configured to support at least a portion of at least one glass panel.

The present invention also provides a purlin, including a pair of purlin beams positioned apart from each other so as to define a space therebetween, a cover plate extending between the purlin beams at a lower portion thereof, and utilities extending within the space, disposed above the cover plate.

The present invention also provides an architectural structure, including a top truss chord extending in a first direction and including end portions, a bottom truss chord including end portions, wherein the end portions of the bottom truss chord are coupled to the end portions of the top truss chord, a strut including an upper portion and a lower portion, wherein the upper portion of the strut is coupled to the top truss chord and wherein the lower portion of the strut is coupled to the bottom truss chord, and wherein the strut defines an opening in the upper portion thereof, a purlin extending in a second direction, wherein the purlin is coupled to the upper portion of the strut, a support coupled to the purlin and configured to support at least a portion of at least one glass panel, and utilities extending within the purlin and through the opening.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

The accompanying figures, which are incorporated herein, form part of the specification and illustrate exemplary embodiments of the present invention. Together with the description, the figures further serve to explain the principles of and to enable a person skilled in the relevant art to make and use the exemplary embodiments described herein. In the drawings, like reference numbers indicate identical or functionally similar elements.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a building according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a front view of the building of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the building of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a top view of the building of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a support structure of the building of FIG. 1 according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a plan view of a truss assembly according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 7A is a perspective view of a portion of a support structure including a center strut according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 7B is a cross-sectional view along line 7B-7B of FIG. 7A.

FIG. 7C is a cross-sectional view along line 7C-7C of FIG. 7A.

FIG. 7D is a front view of the strut of FIG. 7A.

FIG. 7E is a side view of the strut of FIG. 7A.

FIG. 8A is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 7B.

FIG. 8B is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 7C.

FIG. 8C is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 7E.

FIG. 9A is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a portion of a purlin of the support structure of FIG. 6.

FIG. 9B is an enlarged view of a portion of a purlin of the support structure of FIG. 6.

FIG. 10A is a cross-sectional view along line 10A-10A of FIG. 9B.

FIG. 10B is a cross-sectional view along line 10B-10B of FIG. 9B.

FIG. 11A is a cross-sectional view of a portion of the truss assembly of FIG. 6.

FIG. 11B is a cross-sectional view of a portion of the truss assembly of FIG. 6.

FIG. 11C is a front view of a portion of the truss assembly of FIG. 6.

FIG. 11D is a side view of a portion of the truss assembly of FIG. 6.

FIG. 12A is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a center tee support of the truss assembly of FIG. 6.

FIG. 12B is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the first tee support to the right of the center tee support of the truss assembly of FIG. 6.

FIG. 12C is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the second tee support to the right of the center tee support of the truss assembly of FIG. 6.

FIG. 12D is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the third tee support to the right of the center tee support of the truss assembly of FIG. 6.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The following detailed description refers to the accompanying figures that illustrate exemplary embodiments. Other embodiments are possible. Modifications can be made to the exemplary embodiments described herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Therefore, the following detailed description is not intended to be limiting. The operation and behavior of the exemplary embodiments presented are described with the understanding that modifications and variations of the embodiments may be within the scope of the present invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a building 100 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 2 is a front view of building 100. FIG. 3 is a sectional view of building 100 partially showing the interior of building 100. FIG. 4 is a top view of building 100. Building 100 can be constructed of panels, such as, for example, roof panels 114, which can be included in a roof 110, side wall panels 104, and walls 140. Such panels 114 and 104 can be formed of glass in order to establish a glass look and feel of building 100. Side wall panels 104 can be attached to one another and supported by attachment features such as, for example, metal fittings 102 intermittently positioned along adjacent panels 104 (see FIG. 1). Likewise, roof panels can be attached to one another and supported by attachment features such as, for example, roof patch fittings 112 (see FIG. 6). As would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, various other suitable mounting techniques or hardware may be used for joining panels 114 together and panels 104 together. In some embodiments, roof 110 can be a curved glass roof. Such a curved glass roof 110 can be defined by adjacent roof panels 114 where roof panels 114 are themselves curved. Curved glass roof 110 can be supported from within building 100 by a truss system such as, for example, support structure 120 (see FIG. 5). Support structure 120 can include truss assemblies 200 that conform to the curvature of curved glass roof 110 in order to provide consistent support to roof panels 114 throughout the span of curved glass roof 110.

In FIG. 3, truss assembly 200 for supporting glass roof 110 is shown spanning the entire width of building 100, and is supported at ends thereof by wall supports 130. Truss assembly 200 can be coupled to wall supports 130 by any suitable means as would be appreciated by one of skill in the art. As would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, however, truss assembly 200 need not span the entire width of a building or structure in which it is used. In building 100, for example, cooperating truss assemblies 200 could each span half the width of building 100, and could meet and be supported in the middle of the width of building 100 at, for example, an additional wall support 130, other support post, or the like. Similarly, more than two truss assemblies may be used in a building or structure as desired or required.

Support structure 120 can also include purlins 300 (see FIG. 4) that act in cooperation with truss assemblies 200 to support glass roof 110. Purlins 300 are structural elements that extend in a longitudinal direction L and are supported by truss assemblies 200 that extend in a transverse direction T (see FIG. 5). In order to help maintain the glass look and feel of building 100, building utilities can be routed through support structure 120, hiding them from view and thereby preventing them from interrupting or interfering with the glass look and feel of building 100. To accomplish this, utilities can be routed within purlins 300. Positioning of building utilities in this regard will be discussed below in greater detail. As would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, building 100 is not limited to the building depicted in the figures, but may be any suitable architectural structure.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a support structure 120 for supporting glass roof 110 according to an embodiment of the invention. To aid in visualizing the invention, purlins 300 appear transparent in FIG. 5, however purlins 300 are not necessarily transparent. FIG. 5 depicts two truss assemblies 200 and seven purlins 300, however, support structure 120 can include more or fewer truss assemblies 200 or more or fewer purlins 300. Truss assemblies 200 can be spaced apart by any suitable distance as would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, for example, by 7 feet, 6 inches.

FIG. 6 is a plan view of a truss assembly 200 according to an embodiment of the invention. Truss assembly 200 includes a top truss chord 210 and a bottom truss chord 220. Ends of top truss chord 210 meet with ends of bottom truss chord 220. Each strut 230 is, at one end thereof, connected to bottom truss chord 220, and is also connected to top truss chord 210. Thus, struts 230 span an area defined by top truss chord 210 and bottom truss chord 220. Struts 230 extend beyond top truss chord 210 to connect to purlins 300 to assist in supporting glass roof 110. Struts 230 can connect to purlins 300 by any suitable technique as would be apparent to one of skill in the art, such as, for example, screws, bolts, nuts, rivets, welds, glue, or solvent. Alternatively, no direct connection mechanism may be provided, in which case struts 230 and purlins 300 maintain relative positions by other means, such as, for example, by virtue of other indirect connection mechanisms, or by virtue of incident forces, such as, for example, forces due to gravity.

As one of skill in the art would appreciate, struts 230 can be of various lengths to suit a particular application. Struts 230 can, as depicted in FIG. 6, be of increasing length as struts 230 approach the center of truss assembly 200. In other words, struts 230 nearest the center of truss assembly 200 may be the longest struts 230 of truss assembly 200, and, moving from the center towards the ends of truss assembly 200, each strut 230 may be shorter than the previous strut 230. Struts 230 can be evenly spaced in the transverse direction. For example, centerlines of adjacent struts 230 may be separated by a distance of 7 feet, 6 inches. Struts 230 can be of any suitable diameter as would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, such as, for example, 2 and ½ inches. Moreover, struts 230 can be formed of any suitable material as would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, such as, for example, stainless steel.

FIG. 7A is a perspective view of a portion of support structure 120 for supporting glass roof 110 that includes a center strut 230 according to an embodiment of the invention. FIG. 7B is a cross-sectional view of the center strut 230. FIG. 7C is a cross-sectional view of the center strut 230. FIG. 7D is a front view of the center strut 230. FIG. 7E is a side view of the center strut 230. As is apparent from at least FIGS. 6 and 7A, each top truss chord 210 can be formed of a pair of continuous top truss beams 212, each top truss beam 212 spanning the length of top truss chord 210. Each pair of top truss beams 212 can be spaced apart by a distance sufficient to accommodate struts 230, for example, by 3 inches. Top truss beams 212 may be formed of any suitable material as would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, such as, for example, stainless steel. Struts 230 can be fastened between the top truss beams 212 using connections 234. Connections 234 can include, for example, screws, bolts, nuts, rivets, welds, glue, or solvent. Top truss beams 212 may have a width of, for example, 1 foot, 3 inches, and a thickness of, for example, 1 inch. Connections 234 may include a lower connection 234 and an upper connection 234. The lower connection 234 may be centered 4 and ¼ inches from the bottom of top truss chord 210, for example. The upper connection 234 may be centered 4 and ¼ inches from the top of top truss chord 210, for example.

Top truss chord 210 curves downward, corresponding to the curve of curved glass roof 110, and bottom truss chord 220 curves upward. Top truss chord 210 and bottom truss chord 220 are spaced apart by struts 230. Top truss chord 210 may exhibit a curvature having a radius of 165 feet at its bottom, and 167 feet, 10 inches at its top. The radius of a line connecting lower connections 234 along top truss chord 210 may be, for example, 165 feet, 4 and ¼ inches. The radius of a line connecting upper connections 234 along top truss chord 210 may be, for example, 165 feet, 10 and ¾ inches.

Bottom truss chords 220 can be formed of a pair of rods 222, each spanning approximately half the length of the bottom truss chord 220, and meeting at the center of bottom truss chord 220. Rods 222 can be of any suitable diameter as would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, such as, for example, 2 and ½ inches, and can be formed of any suitable material as would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, such as, for example, stainless steel. Rods 222 can connect to struts 230 by extending through holes at the ends of struts 23G. In the case of a center strut 230, as shown in FIG. 7B, rods 222 can connect to center strut 230 via a coupler 224, which also can connect adjacent ends of the pair of rods 222 of a bottom truss chord 220. Coupler 224 can be formed of any suitable material as would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, such as, for example, stainless steel. As one of skill in the art would appreciate, bottom truss chords 220 can be formed of more or fewer rods 222, which can connect to struts 230 by any of the techniques noted above, other techniques that would be apparent to one of skill in the art, or any combination thereof.

Purlins 300 can be positioned above top truss chords 210 and can be aligned approximately perpendicularly to truss assemblies 200, and assist in supporting glass roof 110. Purlins 300 need not necessarily be aligned perpendicularly to truss assemblies 200, however. As one of skill in the art would appreciate, purlins 300 can be aligned with truss assemblies at a variety of angles to suit a particular application.

Purlins 300 can extend longitudinally between pairs of truss assemblies 200. Adjacent purlins 300 can meet at a purlin joint 310, which may coincide with the longitudinal center of a truss assembly 200. Alternatively, purlins 300 may extend continuously through one or more truss assemblies 200. Each purlin 300 can be formed of a pair of purlin beams 302 spaced apart by a distance at least sufficient to accommodate struts 230, for example, by 3 inches.

Purlin beams 302 may be formed of any suitable material as would be apparent to one of skill in the art, including, for example, stainless steel. Purlin beams 302 may have a height of, for example, 1 foot, 3 inches, and a thickness of, for example, ¾ inches. Utilities 500, which can include, for example, fire sprinkler pipe 502 and electrical conduit 504, can be positioned between purlin beams 302 of a purlin 300. Such positioning of utilities 500 within purlins 300 can provide a variety of benefits, including hiding utilities 500 from view, thereby increasing the aesthetic appeal of support structure 120 and glass roof 110 while maintaining the functionality that utilities 500 may provide.

FIG. 8A is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 7B. FIG. 8B is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 7C. FIG. 8C is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 7E. In order to avoid interference of utilities 500 with struts 230 between paired purlin beams 302 of a purlin 300, struts 230 can define openings 232 through which utilities 500 can pass. Openings 232 can be variously sized and shaped in order to accommodate various sizes and shapes of utility components, as would be appreciated by one of skill in the art. Openings 232 are depicted as rectangular with rounded corners, however, openings 232 need not define a closed shape; openings 232 can extend to an outer edge of a strut 230. For example, opening 230 shown in FIG. 8A can be extended in an upwards direction to define a U-shaped cavity opening at the top of strut 230, or extended in a right-side direction to define a C-shaped opening along a side of strut 230.

Struts 230 can be formed of two parts, upper part 230A and lower part 230B. Upper part 230A can be connected to lower part 230B via the same connection 234 that connects strut 230 to the support beams of purlin 300. Alternatively, upper part 230A can be connected to lower part 230B via a connection different from connection 234. Upper part 230A and lower part 230B can be connected at a joint, and can be fixed in place via connections 234. Alternatively, struts 230 can be formed of a single part, or of more than two parts, and parts of struts 230 can be connected via a variety of connection techniques, as would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, for example, screws, bolts, nuts, rivets, welds, glue, or solvent.

Supports 430 can be positioned at the top of purlins 300, and can span the distance between paired purlin beams 302 of purlins 300. Supports 430 can be coupled to purlins 300 by any suitable technique that would be apparent to one of skill in the art, including, for example, screws, bolts, nuts, rivets, welds, glue, or solvent. Alternatively, supports 430 can be integral with purlins 300. Supports 430 can be positioned at intervals in the longitudinal direction along purlins 300. Supports 430 can be located at positions over truss assemblies 200, and at positions between truss assemblies 200 (see FIGS. 9A and 9B). Support posts 420 can be coupled at one end portion thereof to supports 430, and can be coupled at the other end portion thereof to tee supports 410. Support posts 420 can be formed of any suitable material as would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, such as, for example, stainless steel, and can be coupled to supports 430 and tee supports 410 by any suitable technique that would be apparent to one of skill in the art, including, for example, screws, bolts, nuts, rivets, welds, glue, or solvent. Alternatively, support posts 420 can be integral with either or both of supports 430 and tee supports 410. Tee supports 410 can support glass roof 110 and can extend between adjacent roof panels 114, which may exhibit a curved shape similar to that of top truss chord 210. For example, roof panels 114 may exhibit a curve in the transverse direction having a radius of 167 feet, 10 inches. Tee supports 410 may correspond to roof patch fittings 112, which can be positioned on top of roof panels 114 so as to overlap portions of adjacent roof panels 114. Tee supports 410 can be positioned above purlins 300 by a distance sufficient to accommodate fire sprinklers, for example, by approximately 2 and ⅝ inches. Tee supports 410 can interface with roof panels 114 and roof patch fittings 112 by any suitable technique that would be apparent to one of skill in the art, including, for example, screws, bolts, nuts, rivets, welds, glue, or solvent. Tee supports 410 can be formed of any suitable material as would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, such as, for example, stainless steel. Tee supports 410 may have a thickness of, for example, ½ inch, and may have a transverse width of 4 and ½ inches.

FIG. 9A is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a portion of purlin 300 of support structure 120. FIG. 9B is an enlarged view of a portion of a purlin 300 of support structure 120. FIG. 10A is a cross-sectional view of a portion of purlin 300 coinciding with a position of a fire sprinkler 506. FIG. 10B is a cross-sectional view of a portion of purlin 300 coinciding with a position of a support post 420. Fire sprinkler pipe 502 may include fire sprinklers 506 intermittently along its length in the longitudinal direction. Fire sprinklers 506 can be of any suitable type as would be recognized by one of skill in the art, such as, for example, upright pendant sprinklers. Fire sprinklers 506 can be spaced so as to be positioned between adjacent supports 430.

Electrical conduit 504 can be used to provide electricity to various components throughout a building or other structure of which support structure 120 is a part. For example, electrical conduit 504, positioned within purlins 300, can be used to provide electricity to light fixtures 508, which can be positioned intermittently along a purlin 300 in the longitudinal direction. Light fixtures 508 can be attached to purlins 300 by any suitable technique that would be apparent to by one of skill in the art, including, for example, by a lighting track 340. Lighting track 340 can extend longitudinally within a purlin 300, occupying space between paired purlin beams 302 of a purlin 300. The bottom of lighting track 340 may align with the bottom of purlins 300. Lighting track 340 can be coupled to a cover plate 330 that extends between and is coupled to paired purlin beams 302 of a purlin 300.

Cover plates 330 can be positioned at a lower portion of purlin beams 302, for example, approximately 1 and ¾ inches from the bottom of purlin beams 302, and can serve to help maintain spacing of pairs of purlin beams 302, and to cover the area between paired purlin beams 302 from view from below. Cover plates 330 can be coupled to purlin beams 302 by any suitable technique as would be apparent to one of skill in the art, such as, for example, screws, bolts, nuts, rivets, welds, glue, or solvent. Alternatively, cover plates 330 can be integral with purlin beams 302. Cover plates 330 can extend longitudinally between adjacent truss assemblies 200. Cover plates 330 may be spaced from struts 230 of truss assemblies 200 by, for example, ¼ inch.

Lighting track 340 can be coupled to cover plate 330 by any suitable technique that would be apparent to one of skill in the art, including, for example, via an attachment clip 342. Cover plate 330 can be coupled to purlin beams 302 by any suitable technique that would be apparent to one of skill in the art, including, for example, via angles 332. Cover plate 330 can be of any suitable thickness as would be appreciated by one of skill in the art, such as, for example, ¼ inches. Lighting track can be formed of longitudinal segments positioned between truss assemblies 200.

FIG. 11A is a cross-sectional view of a portion of truss assembly 200, focusing on a non-center strut 230. FIG. 11B is a cross-sectional view of a portion of truss assembly 200, focusing on the non-center strut 230 shown in FIG. 11A. FIG. 11C is a view of a portion of truss assembly 200, focusing on the non-center strut 230 shown in FIG. 11A. FIG. 11D is a view of a portion of truss assembly 200, focusing on the non-center strut 230 shown in FIG. 11A. The non-center strut 230 is angled with respect to a tangent of bottom truss chord 220 at the point where the non-center strut 230 meets bottom truss chord 220. The non-center strut 230 forms an obtuse angle with this tangent on one side of the non-center strut 230 and an acute angle with this tangent on the other side of the non-center strut 230. Referring back to FIGS. 7A, 7B, and 7D, in contrast, the center strut 230 forms an approximately perpendicular angle with a tangent of the bottom truss chord 220 at the point where the center strut 230 meets bottom truss chord 220.

Referring to FIG. 6, on one side of truss assembly 200, for example, an angle θA may be 88.7 degrees, an angle θB may be 91.3 degrees, an angle θC may be 86.1 degrees, an angle θD may be 93.9 degrees, an angle θE may be 83.5 degrees, an angle θF may be 96.5 degrees, and an angle θG may be 80.45 degrees. Corresponding angles on the other side of truss assembly 200 may be similar.

FIG. 12A is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a center tee support 410 of truss assembly 200. FIG. 12B is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the first tee support 410 to the right of the center tee support 410 of truss assembly 200. FIG. 12C is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the second tee support 410 to the right of the center tee support 410 of truss assembly 200. FIG. 12D is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the third tee support 410 to the right of the center tee support 410 of truss assembly 200. As is evident considering these figures together, the angle with respect to vertical at which tee supports 410 extend between roof panels 114 increases as tee supports 410 are positioned farther from the center tee support 410, in order to correspond to gaps between adjacent roof panels 114 of glass roof 110. For example, the angle with respect to vertical at which the center tee support 410 extends between roof panels 114 may be zero degrees, the angle with respect to vertical at which the first tee support 410 to the right of the center tee support 410 extends between roof panels 114 may be 2.56 degrees, the angle with respect to vertical at which the second tee support 410 to the right of the center tee support 410 extends between roof panels 114 may be 5.13 degrees, and the angle with respect to vertical at which the third tee support 410 to the right of the center tee support 410 extends between roof panels 114 may be 7.7 degrees. These values are exemplary only. As one of skill in the art would appreciate, the angles with respect to vertical at which tee supports 410 extend between roof panels 114 can vary according to the particular application.

The embodiments described above are exemplary only. As one of skill in the art would appreciate, the present invention can be embodied in various alternative embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. For example, in some embodiments utilities other than or in addition to fire sprinkler pipes 502 and electrical conduits 504 can be accommodated by support structure 120, such as, for example, data lines, cable lines, phone lines, and plumbing lines.

Additionally, though the above embodiments have been described in the context of a support structure used for a roof of a building, the invention is not so limited. The invention also encompasses a support structure used in various applications, such as, for example, as a floor or a wall.

Additionally, though the above embodiments have been described in the context of a support structure used for a building, the invention is not so limited. The invention also encompasses support structures used in various mobile structures, such as, for example automobiles, airplanes, and spaceships. Embodiments of the invention may be used in an automobile chassis, or in an airplane cabin or wing structure, for example.

Additionally, embodiments of the invention may be used in relatively immobile structures other than buildings, including, for example, bridges, windmills, utility towers, and works of art.

Additionally, embodiments of the invention may be used in atmospheres different from those of the surface of Earth, including, for example, in subterranean structures, in stations or structures in orbit around Earth or another celestial body, and on the surface of another celestial body.