INDIO, CA – The crane carries a universal message of peace, so it's only fitting that the more than 100,000 visitors who attended this year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival were greeted by a giant representation of the elegant bird. Spanning its wings 150' and standing a towering 45' high, the white aluminum origami-style crane was one of the festival's main attractions – right up there with headliners Jay-Z, Muse, Gorillaz and Thom Yorke – at an event known for its stunning visual art as much as its eclectic music.
Created by Crimson Collective (www.crimsonsociety.org) , a group of Los Angeles-based artists, architects and designers, the sculpture was inspired by the Japanese art of origami (folding paper into the shape of a crane) and the legend that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted any wish they desire. But the huge creature, called Ascension, was intended to be more than iconic symbolism or eye candy. It was designed with the real-world functions of providing Coachella concert-goers with shelter from the desert sun by day, while collecting solar energy to power its lighting system at night.
Building such a massive structure that could withstand the potentially extreme outdoor conditions in the Coachella Valley presented a challenge – one that was successfully met using aluminum trussing products from Global Truss.
A couple months before the concert, recalls Donald Hauger of Global Truss, he was approached by Crimson Collective founder Behn Samareh about materials for the project. “Behn had come up with this concept of a giant aluminum crane sculpture, and he pitched the idea to Coachella's investors, who gave the go-ahead,” related Hauger.
Designed to resemble an origami paper crane, the sculpture was constructed using the principle of tensional integrity, which is the balancing of tension and compression. More than 60 pieces of Global Truss's F44 16-inch square trussing make up the bird's skeleton, covered by 7,000 sq. ft. of a white shade fabric for its soaring wings, which provide a shield from the sun while resembling the paper folds on an origami crane. An additional 50-plus pieces of Global Truss F34 I-Beam truss form the structures that house the solar panels on either side of the big bird. All clamps and universal junction blocks are also from Global.
“At first, they wanted to use our 12-inch box truss, but we had to go with the 16-inch because of the wind load in the Coachella Valley,” said Hauger. “The wind can get as high as 70 to 80 miles per hour, so the structure had to be built to withstand those conditions. Another consideration was that everything had to be weighted down with various tie-downs and aircraft cable.” Global's trussing was ideal for the rigors of the environment, since it is TUV-rated and made of high-strength 6082-T6 extruded aluminum alloy – a material so strong and rigid that it is used by the aviation industry for aircraft construction.
Although strong and rugged, the trussing is also very lightweight and modular, which is important because Crimson Collective members intend to take their sculpture to festivals and fairs throughout the world. Completely mobile, the entire crane can be dismantled and packed into one 40 ft. shipping container.
Wherever it goes, Ascension will carry its message of peace, grace, wisdom and prosperity. True to its name, the crane “stands as a symbol of hope and a prelude to ascension through awareness and understanding,” said designer Samareh. It also personifies the ideals of self-sustainability and energy independence, powering its own lighting system with its two solar collection stations. Additionally, Hauger pointed out, the structure reflects the mission of Crimson Collective's parent organization, the Crimson Society, a non-profit group that benefits homeless people. “With the large wings hovering over people and sheltering them, it ties into the concept of providing housing and building structures for the homeless.”
For more information, contact Global Truss America at (323) 415-6225, or visit www.globaltruss.com
For more information about the Crimson Collective, visit www.crimsonsociety.org.