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Tent features fireplaces

Project Briefs | October 1, 2007 | By:

A tent-turned-expo-booth wows visitors with a custom entrance and real, burning fireplaces.

The idea of installing a real, burning fireplace inside a tent would make most event companies shiver. But for the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA) convention, CFM needed to install a handful of fireplaces inside its booth to showcase its products. It was in this fully permitted “burn area,” a parking lot adjacent to the Salt Lake City convention center, that Relay Worldwide had to build a fireplace-friendly tent that would feel absolutely nothing like a tent to prospective clients. “My job was really to find a team of people to work on this kind of unknown project,” says Steve Immer, a director at Relay Worldwide. On his event team were Modern Exposition Services, the provider of the 50-by-120-foot structure, and the Mash Group, which played a key role in designing and fabricating the grand entrance and the booth itself.

Relay Worldwide came upon Modern Exposition Services as a recommended vendor for the HPBA convention, though the two companies hadn’t worked together before. Immer says a close collaboration was necessary to create this unique space from a stock rental tent. Relay presented the tent company with a drawing that showed half of the tent cut away, replaced by a massive entrance, Immer says. “I think the vendor was initially a little concerned that it could be done—and what we would be doing with his structure,” he says. “But we worked closely with them to work out any issues. They made it happen and made a really spectacular entrance for us.”

With all the appropriate permitting in place, thanks to the convention and to Modern Exposition Services, Relay was able to include a real fireplace and chimney directly inside the custom-made entrance to the tent. “Fireplaces have kind of a ‘homey’ feel to them,” Immer says. “There’s a certain atmosphere that you get when there’s a fireplace, and we really wanted to create that environment from the time they walked up to our booth and throughout the experience inside.”

The challenge in the design, Immer says, was to create something really different for CFM, in order to maximize the company’s presence at the convention. “As we started to see who was around us and what kind of sight lines we ultimately had, the entrance just seemed like the most logical and impressive element we could do to help get traffic down our way,” he says. He notes that even after 25 years in the event business, he’s never seen an entrance quite like the one created for CFM. “Certainly the entrance was the show-stopper,” he says. “That was probably the most exciting thing about this event.”

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