PIFA 2011 Eiffel Tower

The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts 2011 captured the atmosphere of 1911 Paris bringing modern day Philadelphia on a journey back to a place where industry and invention catalyzed the artistic movement of the age. At the center of this installation designed by Mimi Lien was an 81’-tall Eiffel Tower sculpture.

As the construction phase and installation planning began, several challenges were revealed. From the floor to the ceiling, the Kimmel Center’s existing architecture presented the biggest challenges. One of these challenges was the 125-lbs per sq. foot load-rating on the floor. This floor was originally designed as a floating floor for acoustical purposes. To work within these parameters, the staff at Proof Productions Inc.(PPI) worked with engineers from Gary K. Munkelt & Associates to transfer the sculpture’s weight down to four 6’x 6’x½” steel plates with high-density rubber underneath placed at the feet of each leg of the Tower.

The existing ceiling architecture in the Kimmel Center lobby also presented a challenge for installation. It was determined by building engineers that overhead rigging was not an option for installation. Without the aid of chain motors from above, a ground-support truss structure was erected to provide the needed lifting capacity. In addition to the floor and the ceiling constraints, the team also had to fabricate the components to load-in through the standard double-doors of the Kimmel Center.

The entire installation was open to the public as preparation for other parts of the festival and events continued in other Kimmel Center performance spaces. Power had to be run to the lobby (300amp, 3-phase) from panels dedicated to other performance areas in the building. With no rigging support from above, a 120’ atrium lift was used for high-reach access during installation. This unique lift is made to fit inside a standard double-door.

The team chosen for this project was put together in part for their reliability and history of successful partnerships and projects. Each member played a specific role in the completion process of not only the Tower but also the zeppelins, bi-planes, and miniature trains that soared along cables 100’ above the ground.

Scenic designer Mimi Lien worked closely with Proof Productions and Fuse Management to take an idea and transform it into reality. The journey from inspiration to design to execution created an experience where the audience entered from the streets of Philadelphia, spent an evening transported back in time to a Paris of the imagination, and left with the dreamlike memory of a fantastical City of Light.

Creative Team
Mimi Lien, Scenic Design
Greg Emetaz, Lighting Design
Nick Kourtides, Sound Design
Kimmel Center Staff, Producers
Eileen Harris, Production Manager (Kimmel Center Inc.)
Evan Alexander, Associate Installation Designer
Proof Productions Inc. Staff

Steve McEntee, ETCP Certified Rigger (PPI)
Matt Levy, ETCP Certified Rigger (PPI)
Brad Helm, ETCP Certified Rigger (PPI)
Alan Belcher, ETCP Certified Electrician (PPI)
Dennis Moore, ETCP Certified Electrician & Rigger (Kimmel Center Inc.)

Proof Productions Inc./Fuse Management LLC., Fabrication & Installation Supervision
Proof Productions Inc./Fuse Management LLC., Engineering
Frank Conklin, Lead Engineer (Gary K. Munkelt & Associates)
Joseph Fazzio Inc., Steel Supplier
Airgas, Welding Wire & Welding Gas
Light Action Inc., Rental Equipment
Sunbelt Rentals, Lift Equipment Rental

120’ Atrium Lift
Approximately 5,000 points of light (industrial strand lighting, medium base lamps)
Applied Electronics Self-Climbing Truss Rig
Columbus McKinnon Chain Motors
Proof Productions Custom Rigging

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