Fall 2015 Newsletter

360 Chicago — Rebranded Observation Deck Debuts in Chicago

360 Chicago — Rebranded Observation Deck Debuts in Chicago

Visitors to Chicago now have an updated attraction to visit on the City’s Magnificent Mile, the newly rebranded 360 CHICAGO, formerly the John Hancock Observatory.

In 2012, Paris-based Montparnasse Group 56 purchased the 94th floor attraction, renamed it, and began its plans for rebranding and updating the observation deck. Working with BRC Imagination Arts, the design consultant; Peter Provost from Provost Studio; Gensler Architects and Chicago Scenic’s team; Montparnasse 56 and the local Chicago 360 team collaborated on the design-build project that reimagined the concourse level’s entrance.

Today, the 200-foot-long passage leading to the elevators combines brief history lessons, quotes from famous celebrities, and an introduction to eight of Chicago’s culturally unique neighborhoods.

Videos, photographs, music, and text all provide information about the City, adds Jean Burch, one of Chicago Scenic’s project managers who was part of the team that helped create the concourse level exhibit. Photos of Chicago sports teams and stadiums, iconic food like Chicago-style hot dogs and pizza, and Chicago-style jazz and blues all contribute to the message that visitors see and hear as they head toward the elevators. Mirrors and reflective surfaces throughout the concourse allow guests to picture themselves as part of the city.

Bethany Fleming served as the exhibit development curator, developing content, selecting photographs, and writing accompanying text. The exhibit also includes four videos, provided by Chicago’s convention and tourism group Choose Chicago, that highlight Chicago’s neighborhoods. Another video, “The Making of Chicago”, was created by media producer Silver Oaks, and captures historically significant events from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 all the way up to the Blackhawks’ recent 2015 Stanley Cup victory.

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New exhibit opens at Missouri History Museum

New exhibit opens at Missouri History Museum

When the Missouri History Museum decided to build its biggest exhibit to date – an educational children’s exhibit focused on the history of St. Louis – Chicago Scenic was happy to step in as a consulting, design, and fabrication partner.

When guests enter the 5,000 square foot exhibit, they encounter a miniature scaled ‘skyline’ of downtown St. Louis and LED-lit vitrines that showcase model train cars and other historical artifacts.

From there, guests move through a recreated historic downtown trolley car. At 30-feet in length, the trolley car features backlit window displays and working headlights and taillights. It is through
this trolley car that guests move from the present tense to the past. Hanging over the trolley car is the iconic St. Louis Gateway Arch, large enough that it had to be brought into the room as two separate 8-foot wide pieces.

Moving further into the exhibit, guests encounter a two-story steamboat with a large captain’s wheel under a hanging steam whistle that, when pulled, reverberates throughout the exhibit.

Three columns of cargo crates stand outside the steamboat. Eight of the 18 boxes are equipped with internal LED lighting so that artifacts inside are safely illuminated.

One of the unique features of the exhibit is the 14-foot-tall bridge footing, built to resemble the original limestone footings of the Eads Bridge, once the longest bridge in the world. Small interactives and text boards rest against the footing.

Chicago Scenic contracted with Brees Studio to create the four 14-foot-tall white oak trees stationed throughout the exhibit. Custom cubby holes carved inside two of the trees include LED lighting and
provide a cozy reading spot for kids.

Chicago Scenic Project Manager Stefan Koniarz oversaw the exhibit installation. Working with Nicole D’Orazio, Exhibition Designer at Missouri History Museum, the team brought rough ideas and designs to completion in just a few short months. “It was a fun project because we really had a chance to help a client take a rough design through completion, and maintain budget. Kraemer Design + Production was the design consultant, completing the museum schematic design (SD) through design development (DD) and construction design (CD).

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Cyrus Tang Hall of China

Cyrus Tang Hall of China

The Field Museum’s newest permanent exhibition, the “Cyrus Tang Hall of China”, opened this summer and includes seven custom cases built by Chicago Scenic. The cases created of metal, glass, and custom wood cladding are elegantly designed to focus attention on the priceless artifacts inside.

Pictured above, right, is the “Bell Case”, constructed to support the 70-pound artifact; the Censer case, at left, houses a 200-pound artifact. Both cases were customized to accept wire chases for electrical and data to power the reader rails at the front.

The complex ship case above features two artifact areas. The center glass vitrine houses the ship and sits above the surrounding glass case; the lower case contains multiple artifacts. The entire case is sealed from the elements and includes two pest ports.

Chicago Scenic also built 42 backlit reader rails (one is shown above) that display information about the exhibit’s artifacts. The reader rails were all custom and feature an L.E.D. backlit display. The L.E.D. lighting allows for a small profile while creating a beautiful backlit light box feel.

Beth Smith, Chicago Scenic’s Metals department head, worked closely with CSSI Project Manager Stefan Koniarz, and created the custom steel frames and sheet metal cladding prominent throughout. Eric Frazer was the Field Museum’s project manager.

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Million Dollar Quartet

Million Dollar Quartet

The packed audience at the Welk Resort theatre in Branson, Missouri got quite a show during opening night of the Broadway musical “Million Dollar Quartet.”

In this design-build project, Chicago Scenic was called upon to construct a majority of the musical’s set, which is scheduled to run in intervals for the next several years.

Set walls were built to resemble brick and acoustic panels and finished with a colored wash to look like the famous Sun Records studio where music icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins gathered to jam for one night and one night only.

Surrounding the stage is a custom steel proscenium comprised of 30 individual light boxes. The surround weighs in at nearly 3,000 pounds – and is rigged to fly. A hand-painted, 66-foot wide scrim displayed an introduction to the characters and plot of the famous Sam Phillips story. The signature ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ sign features two chasing rings of incandescent lights and color-changing LED lights and is rigged to fly in at the show’s finale.

Chicago Scenic lead Kevin Rutherford hand-constructed the hollow piano that encases the electric keyboard played by the Jerry Lee Lewis actor throughout the show. The Chicago Scenic team also built two durable piano benches - one as a backup - to withstand the show’s hours of rigorous dancing. “One of our biggest challenges was creating this set to be as easy to change over as possible, since it will be used vigorously for several months, dismantled and stored, and then taken out to run again for several more months,” says Project Manager Will Burns, who oversaw the project. Chicago Scenic hired Tom Ryan as the set designer; Chris Cathcart was the musical’s producer.

The musical is set to run at the Welk Resort through the end of December, with another run scheduled for October-November, 2016.

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Go Cubs!

Go Cubs!

As the Chicago Cubs prepared to enter into their first postseason series since 2008, The Field Museum of Natural History decided it was time to dress the dino. Chicago Scenic crews created this custom-built, hand-painted jersey for the Museum’s 25-foot long Brachiosaurus - in just one week.

Beginning in metals, crews welded a body frame that served as the dinosaur’s belly form. Soft Goods Department Head Mark Bothelo used this frame to measure and cut the weather-resistant fabric that was hand-painted by Paints Department Head Les Woods, ensuring that the jersey’s pinstripes aligned perfectly. Once dry, fabric pieces were sewn together to form the oversized Cubs jersey on display.

Project Manager Gary Heitz managed the project.

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Custom Bus Shelters Promote Jet Blue

Custom Bus Shelters Promote Jet Blue

As part of their recent promotion, Jet Blue Airlines teamed up with JC Decaux to take over several bus shelters throughout Chicago, calling on Chicago Scenic to help construct sand murals in two of the shelters.

In order to avoid shifting of the contents due to vibrations from passing cars and buses, Chicago Scenic’s painters devised a ‘sand painting’ method that enabled the project to stay true to the client’s design – and turned out a stunning result.

Beginning with a wooden box that fits inside the acrylic showcase, Paints Department Head Les Woods sketched a beach towel, sunglasses, and a bottle onto each side of the box.

After laying sand out on a flat surface, Woods applied several different colors to sections of sand. Once dry, sheets of sand were broken back down into small particles and, using a funnel, Woods and his team released one color at a time onto a glue-like substance in each section of the design, thus creating a ‘sand art’ effect. These boxes then slid into the acrylic showcases and double-sided graphic panels were inserted into the middle of each.

Chicago Scenic Project Director Gary Heitz directed the project and Project Manager Alyce Iversen managed teams and production.

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