Spring 2015 Newsletter

Seed to Shelf: Children's Museum of Illinois

Seed to Shelf: Children's Museum of Illinois

With temperatures stuck below freezing this winter, Decatur, Illinois residents were happy to give a warm welcome to the Children’s Museum of Illinois’ latest exhibit, “Seed to Shelf”, a series of play areas that illustrate the path that food – grown and raised locally in Decatur – takes before arriving on their dinner table.

The 2,500 sq. foot exhibit was designed by a team led by Tom Kraemer, principal at Kraemer Design + Production of Cincinnati, OH, and assisted by designers John Apanites and Bill Zimmerman. The exhibit was designed for children from toddlers to pre-teens and features five interactive areas, beginning with a crop and garden area ‘planted’ with corn, peppers, tomatoes, and cabbage – all crops commonly grown in Decatur. The vegetables are attached to stalks and stems with Velcro® strips so that harvesting is easy even for the youngest participants.

Next to the planting area is a pick-up truck loaded with wooden crates so guests can transport their produce to the local fresh market where the vegetables are loaded into produce bins. In the produce market (named for local proprietor Johnston’s Market), visitors select groceries and pay at two stations that have overhead aisle lights that can be flicked on when the stations are open for business. The station’s cash registers have interactive buttons and bar code scanners that light up.

In the barn area, children play with cow and pig wall-mounted puzzles; each illustrates where various cuts of meat originate on an animal before appearing on many dinner tables. Another popular barn interactive is the custom play table that tells the story of how food is transported. Children move trains, boats, trucks and tractors along tracks, waterways, and roads; the accompanying landscape graphics feature recognizable Decatur landmarks, like the Archer Daniels Midwest Inland Port (one of the exhibit’s sponsors).
Finally, a small area reserved for toddlers is set off by a white picket fence; it features a Plinko game where children drop eggs into slots and watch them drop down into nests. The area has rocking lambs and cows and a busy board where toddlers sit or stand to interact with mini farmers, animals, and movable parts like rotating tractor wheels. The area also has an interactive ‘touch and feel’ texture board.

What’s most notable about the exhibit said Jean Burch, Chicago Scenic’s project manager who oversaw the project, is that there aren’t any electronic screens in the exhibit, and no one seems to notice. “The exhibit gives so many options for open-ended play – kids can plant, pick, pack, and ship food – that they are busy creating their own enjoyment,” Jean said. “It’s a popular area and fun to watch the kids play.”

Chicago Scenic worked closely with Museum Executive Director Nicole Bateman and Guest Services Coordinator Katie Van Metre throughout the project.

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Radio City’s Spectacular Show Debuts!

Radio City’s Spectacular Show Debuts!

Chicago Scenic’s skills were displayed in splendor at this spring’s debut of “New York Spring Spectacular”, starring the Rockettes, at Radio City Music Hall.

Shown at right is one of the drops – New York’s iconic Central Park - that CSSI’s Paints Department created. The painted drop measured nearly 79-feet wide and 42-feet high; the painted scene is surrounded first by LED wall legs and headers, and then by video mapping, extending the scene onto the theatre’s walls.

Shown in production (below) is the scrim that was part of the Grand Finale, above. When painting was complete, staff added high gloss jewels and spangles, made from reflective Mylar, to the painted scrim. Chicago Scenic’s Metals Department staff created the interior medallion, which features New York’s iconic skyscrapers, as well as the arched portal seen at the top of the photo.

Chicago Scenic’s Project Director Gary Heitz worked on the project with Radio City’s Technical Director Larry Morley and Set Designer Patrick Fahey from Eight Hands High. CSSI’s staff completed the Central Park drop last year; the rest of the project flew through the shop in under a month.

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Lyric’s Anna Bolena

Lyric’s Anna Bolena

When the Lyric Opera of Chicago presented Anna Bolena at the Civic Opera House earlier this year, Chicago Scenic was pleased to provide key scenic elements, including the dramatic piece pictured at far right. Not only did this piece serve as the royal bedchambers for Anne Boleyn and her lady-in-waiting Jane Seymour, it also accommodated the king’s throne (pictured at right). And, when the back of the bed unit was removed, a new panel attached and the bed was transformed into a prison cell.

The royal bed unit was 8-feet tall, nearly 10-feet wide, and 10-feet deep, and came with a bigger-than-king-sized mattress that was sewn in Chicago Scenic’s Soft Goods Department.

Chicago Scenic’s carpentry crew also created the Opera’s portal, a 56-foot wide and 39-foot tall structure that included 28 colorful, dimensional rosettes. The rosettes are shown in production at right.

Chicago Scenic Project Manager Stefan Koniarz worked closely with the Lyric Opera’s Technical Director Michael Smallwood on the scenic elements for this successful production.

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Sage Vertical Gardens, LLC

Sage Vertical Gardens, LLC

When Sage Vertical Gardens, LLC participated in their first trade show this year – the International Home + Housewares Show at McCormick Place, Chicago – they asked Chicago Scenic to create their booth and then help them navigate the unfamiliar world of trade shows. What they didn’t expect was to win the Show’s Martin M. Pegler Award for the Best Booth Design.

“The winners were selected by a panel of design experts who judged them on inspired design quality, brand positioning, outstanding craftsmanship, exclusive market focus and design-focused sustainability,” said Phil Brandl, president/CEO of the International Housewares Association, which sponsors the Global Innovation Awards. It was quite an accomplishment for a first-time exhibitor and Chicago Scenic was pleased to be part of it, says Chicago Scenic’s Project Manager Stefan Koniarz.

The booth was designed by French designer and architect Daniel Pouzet for the Sage Vertical Gardens team that included Sean Haggerty, director of finance. With Pouzet’s design sketches in hand, the Chicago-based Sage team came to Chicago Scenic to figure out how to create the overhead dome that would eventually be filled with more than 1,400 succulent plants and weigh in at about 3,700 pounds.

The big white dome, according to Koniarz, began as a 10-foot aluminum frame, was covered with an outer layer of Sintra, sanded, filled, and eventually painted a gloss white. At the show, the dome was hung by riggers so attendees could safely walk under it and enjoy the overhead garden experience.

The booth’s succulent-filled dome is one of Sage’s products intended for large-scale corporate installations. Sage also exhibited consumer-targeted plant products, including small vertical wall gardens and desktop lamp prototypes.

In addition to working with the team on the dome’s construction design, Chicago Scenic transported, installed, and removed the booth, and arranged all show services. Sage is planning more trade show participation in the future and Chicago Scenic looks forward to helping them to continue to produce successful events.

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FUNdamentals

FUNdamentals

Chicago Scenic’s crew recently provided a spring tune-up to the White Sox FUNdamentals attraction located above the U.S. Cellular Park left-field concourse. The children’s attraction features interactive games pitting participants against White Sox players.

Chicago Scenic first created the various interactives, designed by BaAM Productions, in 2007 and has since provided seasonal preventive maintenance and winterizing, but it was time for more significant updates, said Stefan Koniarz, project manager at Chicago Scenic.

This year’s updates included mechanical repairs and paint touch ups for the Chicago White Sox “Runner” game that pits fans against the automated life-sized cutout of former Sox left fielder Scott Podsednik.

In the “wiffle ball field”, the crew repaired and repainted the pinwheels, then performed mechanical maintenance on the “Fast Pitch” game which resembles a carnival target shooting game. Players throw baseballs to knock over the targets – images of former White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski – as they travel across the target field.

Despite a rainy installation period, the refreshed attraction was ready to go on Opening Day.

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