Tent structures provide the backdrop for one of the world’s most respected cancer center’s 75th anniversary celebration.
In November 2016, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, celebrated 75 years of providing patient care, research, education and prevention for people whose lives have been affected by cancer. For such an important event, the center secured the turnkey tent structure and HVAC services of Tempe, Ariz.-based 616GC LLC. “The term ‘bespoke’ seems very appropriate in [616GC’s] approach to temporary environments,” says Danny Ward, president of Ward and Ames, the managing producer for the MD Anderson Cancer Center 75th Anniversary Project. “The quiet and effective ductless air, wonderful ceiling liner, floor system, enhanced rigging capability and the overall fit and finish are just a few of the many strong points that separate [the] firm from any tent structure vendor we have ever worked with.”
The 616GC crew installed 11 tent structures and a complete climate control (HVAC) package for the week-long celebration. For the main fundraising event they installed a 50-by-90-meter A-frame to accommodate up to 1,000 guests for a seated dinner, as well as a stage set. The two main requirements the client had were that the main structure have a sufficient amount of hang-load capacity and that the tent structure interior not look like the inside of a tent. “Our 50-meter profile structure has double the hanging capacity of other typical 50-meter structures in the U.S.,” says Andrew Madura, vice president of business development for 616GC. “To help achieve the interior look the client wanted we supplied a complete ceiling liner treatment that added texture to the interior of the structure, as well as a nice palate for added color with lighting effects.”
The 616GC crew installed 51,000 square feet of cassette decking in the main tent structure—10,000 square feet of which was reinforced to support the 200-foot-long stage set for the Houston Symphony Orchestra and a complete concert audio system.
Soggy soil, grass and traffic
The installation came with several site challenges, including determining the proper staking needs for rain-soaked soil, maintaining the integrity of the jobsite surface before, during and after the event, and managing transportation logistics through the busy streets of Houston.
Because of excess rain, 616GC was particularly concerned with the soil conditions. The team analyzed the holding power of the soil by performing pull tests at two dozen locations. “After analyzing the data we concluded that we needed longer stakes to supply the correct amount of holding power,” Madura says. “We ended up using 7-foot stakes.”
The client also requested that the crew take every precaution to minimize damage to the job site. The team incorporated more than 300 8-by-16-foot timber crane mats to create a makeshift roadway for heavy equipment to transport event items to the job site. “In theory, we did not touch the job site with anything other than a golf cart,” Madura says. “In the end, the only damage to the site was some discolored grass.”
Anyone who has driven in Houston knows that maneuvering through traffic can be a challenge, even when driving a car. Transportation challenges for this event included moving large equipment through the busy Houston streets and installing the 25-meter Arcum event entrance directly off of a busy city street. Additionally, because the event took place on hospital grounds, coordination with the local authorities had to be precise to allow for emergency vehicles.
The complete tent package took 30 days to install, and the installation—and event—were a success. The client was thrilled with the structures 616GC provided, and the celebration raised nearly $15 million to support the institution’s mission to end cancer. “Referrals are the name of the game in our business,” Madura says. “This project enabled us to showcase our talents and expertise in large structure projects to a new set of eyes in a new area. More importantly, our team’s performance reiterated to the person that gave us the referral that we were indeed the right choice for the project.”