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Arena Americas scores with America’s Cup

Features | February 21, 2018 | By:

The 35th Louis Vitton America’s Cup World Series provided the perfect venue for Arena Americas to demonstrate its creativity with an ambitious installation.

Every spectacular event comes with certain challenges, and the 2016 Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Chicago, Ill., was no different. Held in fresh water for the first time in its 165-year history, the June race drew more than 200,000 spectators from around the world to Navy Pier, situated along Lake Michigan. Oak Creek, Wis.-based Arena Americas, a part of the international Arena Group, was tasked with building temporary structures for hospitality, VIP parties, sponsorship vendors and ticketing, with the majority of the tents installed on Navy Pier’s rooftop. This, says Arena America’s marketing manager Sara Spitzer, required no small measure of creativity from the company’s design and manufacturing team and the tent engineer, particularly since the usable space was somewhat limited.

“The entire rooftop was 32,900 square feet and we covered the space with 18,840 square feet of tenting,” she says. “Being a pier, the space around the building is relatively narrow and had to be kept open for walkways and general viewing. We couldn’t install large VIP tents at water level without compromising those areas so we turned to a rooftop installation. We were, however, able to install small vendor tents at water level that were open to the public.”

The planning took several months and required working with Navy Pier staff to ensure compliance to Chicago’s rules and regulations (Chicago Building Code for an Exposure D Structure) pertaining to rooftop installations, evacuation plans, weight loads and customized anchoring, as well as the logistics required in getting everything up onto the roof.

The company is experienced in rooftop installations, but the pier was a complicated undertaking. Before the hoisting could even begin, the rooftop had to be prepared to accept the load, requiring the installation of a subfloor (Arena Americas provided the plywood flooring; Navy Pier staff arranged for labor to install it) and of 36 custom anchor plates.

“These were designed to transmit the load from the baseplates to the girders and beams of the main structure,” Spitzer says. “They were also designed with a three-inch height to prevent projection into the subflooring. Each was laser-cut to specifications with baseplate locating holes. Our in-house welder used the locating holes to swiftly weld the baseplates and steel bars to the anchor plates.”

Then, everything had to be transferred from the ground to the rooftop using forklifts, although a10-foot elevator was deployed for transporting smaller equipment and furniture. Installation began on June 1, giving the company just 10 days to complete the project, which also included accessories such as glass and hard walls, lighting, liners, 18,000 feet of laydown flooring and carpeting, tables, chairs and HVAC. As soon as the equipment was lifted, Spitzer says, it was installed.

The project gave Arena Americas the opportunity to demonstrate the company’s considerable expertise, and working closely with staff engineers was a key contributing factor to the successful outcome, she says. Collaboration also played a major role.

“We were very pleased with the sense of cooperation from all of the different entities involved throughout the city of Chicago, specifically the staff at Navy Pier,” Spitzer says. “We truly showed people from all over the world what the Chicago events community can accomplish when we all work together.”

Editor’s note: This project was an entry in the 2017 International Achievement Awards (IAA) in the Corporate Tent Rental category. Watch this site in the coming weeks for an announcement of the opening of the submission period for the 2018 IAAs.

Pamela Mills-Senn is a freelance writer based in Long Beach, Calif.

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