Arena Americas creates a stunning tented experience for guests at MoMA’s sculpture garden, navigating an array of trees, fountains, sculptures and other obstructions.
Each year the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City hosts its annual Party in the Garden to benefit the museum’s general operating fund. Traditionally the MoMA hosts the event in the beautiful Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden—with its outdoor courtyard that is home to more than a dozen world-renowned sculptures, including works by Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso. For the May 2018 Party in the Garden the client asked Oak Creek, Wis.-based Arena Americas to design a new and exciting way to add space while working with the client’s vision of bringing the outside inside. “Interior space is limited and the goal was to move a 600-person dinner from its long-standing residence inside of the museum to the sculpture garden this year due to an increased guest list,” says Will Madison, Arena America’s national new business development manager.
A complex activation
The structure and elevated sub flooring needed to navigate an array of randomly arranged trees, fountains, sculptures, as well as other obstructions situated around the garden. Arena chose a 20-by-60-meter Amerispan structure with custom atrium assemblies for the project. “The clearspan structure was prohibited to interact with the existing sculptures and trees,” Madison says.
Arena encased all of the existing trees and planters in glass. The client added thick faux grass to the floor and suspended a sprinkling of vines and greenery from the underside of the clear tops, complemented by rustic garden style furniture with bright accents via napkins, table cloths and cushions. “A carefully arranged set of arches, interior gables and glass walls were erected and installed to enclose these natural and manmade obstructions without interacting with them,” Madison says. “The results were atriums that dotted the dining room, showcasing decades-old trees and priceless sculptures open to the sky.”
Keeping all the manufacturing in-house allows Arena to manage both costs and delivery, while providing a completely custom solution with client budget at the forefront of every project. “On the management and production side, Arena loves a challenge that demonstrates our teams’ skills and puts our company capacities on display,” Madison says. “To be in this
industry, you must love what you do, and it was a lot of fun conceptualizing, fabricating, installing and completing this complex activation.”
Arena supplied a multi-level plywood floor with scaffold sub structure, with reinforced joists to allow heavy equipment to pass over the top incident-free during the setup and strike. “This floor, like the structure, carefully navigated the same trees, flower beds and sculptures,” Madison says.
The crew installed concrete ballasts below the scaffold floor, lag bolted the baseplates to the multi-layer plywood floor and additionally secured them to the concrete ballasts below.
“It seems to rain during the crane day every year without fail,” Madison says. “It is always hot and humid in NYC during the summer and this year was no different. There was some staff coverage on the day of the event because it was overcast, but 200 tons of air conditioning did its part to mitigate the humidity and unavoidable body heat of nearly 700 people in an enclosed space.
“Every project starts with what feels like sufficient time,” he continues. “However, once the custom design process begins with our amazing in-house design and manufacturing team, and coordination with the skilled labor team that allowed us to navigate all of the obstacles that were both site specific, as well as customized product, successful completion of the project in a safe and timely manner always is a sprint to the finish.”