A unique air beam solution for a unique venue—the roof terrace of Carnegie Hall.
Imagine conceptualizing and installing a tented structure on the roof terrace of a historic, iconic venue built in 1891, a venue that featured Tchaikovsky on its opening night. Take into account that the architectural structure of the building reflects Italian Renaissance: simple, elegant and functional. Now put that structure on the building’s roof, and make it appropriate for an annual gala and other special events throughout the year, something to meet the needs of the events and enhance the historic beauty of the original structure. That was the challenge Stamford Tent & Event Services Inc., Stamford, Conn., took on for the October 1, 2014 Carnegie Hall Opening Night Gala in New York City.
“The project began as a separate consulting project several years ago during a massive renovation of Carnegie Hall,” says Steve Frost, Stamford’s president. “As the needs of the client evolved, and a specific event was targeted, the project continued to evolve.”
A blend of old and new
Selecting, manufacturing and installing the best type of tent structure were collaborative efforts of the client and several tent experts. The group considered a variety of tent styles, including traditional, tension and air beam, as well as different installation methodologies to come up with the optimal solution. The team ultimately decided on a 52-by-93-foot air beam supported structure designed by Pvilion, Brooklyn, N.Y. Federal Fabrics-Fibers Inc. in Lowell, Mass., fabricated the air beam structure, and tops, walls and connections to the building were manufactured by Anchor Industries Inc., Evansville, Ind.
The installation challenges were many due to the location of the site. The tent was erected on the ninth floor roof terrace, and installers could not use a crane due to budget restrictions, so all equipment was brought to the floor terrace via a single freight elevator. No piece of equipment could exceed 12 feet. The tent could not use traditional staking, so it was anchored to the structural steel of the building (steel that was originally installed by Andrew Carnegie more than 100 years ago), using custom baseplates designed by Pvilion. The existing roof terrace floor—floating Ipe (Brazilian hardwood) pavers—serves as the tent’s flooring.
To work out timing and final installation issues, Stamford’s installation crew and Carnegie Hall staff conducted several trial deployments prior to Opening Night. Although the weather was cooperative throughout the event, Stamford Tent and Carnegie Hall developed a written Inclement Weather Action Plan (IWAP) to serve as a guideline for handling any weather condition—including an escalating response protocol as weather conditions change.
Coordinating design and installation with the building architect, general contractors and trade unions required diplomacy, but the results were a stunning installation that fit the building’s structure and the client’s needs perfectly. “This was a very prestigious project to have been involved with and one which turned out to be quite profitable,” Frost says.