Chicago Flyhouse Blog

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Posted by Flyhouse on Dec 9, 2019 3:08:25 PM

Flyhouse and UW-Madison find their rhythm at the new Hamel Music Center

Often, the work that Flyhouse does is invisible. Intentionally so. We are all about function, specializing in essential behind-the-scenes rigging, design, safety, and maintenance—everything required for a safe, successful production or event, and everything the audience is never supposed to see. Our contributions to the new University of Wisconsin-Madison Hamel Music Center were anything but invisible.

The new building—featuring a Concert Hall, Recital Hall, Rehearsal Hall—is the perfect harmony of function AND form, designed with unadulterated acoustics, state-of-the-art engineering, and stunning architecture. Flyhouse has been part of the ensemble of experts, coordinating with Strang, Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture, JP Cullen, Fisher Dachs Associates, Talaske, and numerous trades, playing together from the first note.


HIGHLIGHTS

One of the most unique aspects of the new Hamel Music Center is the Flyhouse Automation System. Each room has its own custom control system to move all curtains to one of 12 acoustically-tuned preset positions. For each preset, curtains automatically adjust to the perfect acoustics for the specific performance and style of music—at the touch of a button. Music to our ears! 

Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall

Stacking Curtains and Doors: Twenty-two stacking curtains with doors are built into the copper-leafed shelves that surround the room. The curtains are hidden away and closed up until needed. The curtains extend out from the bottom of the shelf and adjust the reverberation and aesthetics of the hall.   

Wire tension walkway serves as crew access to lighting positions and rig points in the interior of the room. Flyhouse designed and fabricated the walkway using steel wire woven a walkable mesh. The result is light and airy access entirely functional, acoustically transparent, and almost visually invisible.

Collins Recital Hall

Petals: Eight curved steel and wood structures were designed to reflect sound down, away from the ceiling and toward the audience. Flyhouse built the base structure that was covered and finished by Carley Wood Associates. Flyhouse hung each petal from the ceiling, 40 feet above the stage, as fully functional artistic pieces. The largest of the massive petals is 8 feet wide, 15 feet long, and weighs 800 pounds.

Flyhouse_UW

Tiaras: These two rings constructed from woven stainless wire mesh applied to stainless steel framework hang under the petals. They are architectural features that camouflage the exposed lighting battens and, along with the petals, are the featured design elements of the Recital Hall Ceiling. 

To install these key pieces and other equipment, Flyhouse installed a floating platform the full size of the ceiling that carried crew and equipment to the ceiling for installation. 

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Hamel Music Center opened to the public this fall. 


BY THE NUMBERS:

3 performance spaces in the new venue: Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall, Collins Recital Hall, and Sing Man & Florence Lee/Annette Kaufman Rehearsal Hall

Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall

4 Flyhouse custom 2,000 lb capacity winches for lifting curtains
1 Flyhouse custom 1,800 lb capacity winch for projection screen
16 2000 lb capacity rigging strong points
22 stacking curtains with 24 stacking curtain doors
5 wire rope access platforms
4 tracking curtains with 4 custom built tracking curtain doors

Collins Recital Hall

24 roller banner curtains
1 Flyhouse custom 3,500 lb capacity winch with full-circle lighting batten
2 Flyhouse custom 1,800 lb capacity winch with half-circle lighting battens
8 Flyhouse custom Petals
2 Flyhouse custom Tiara
8 Flyhouse custom on-stage reflector panels (4 rotating, 4 stationary)
1 Flyhouse custom Piano Barn Door

Sing Man & Florence Lee/Annette Kaufman Rehearsal Hall

4 tracking curtains

90 axes total on 3 independent systems—custom designed and programmed by Flyhouse Automation Systems.

 

Flyhouse_UW_r2

 

Topics: Hoist, Theatrical Rigging, Flyhouse Projects

Elgin Community College Gets a Lift

Posted by Flyhouse on Sep 11, 2019 3:01:28 PM

Arts Center Updated Ahead of 25th Anniversary

Flyhouse’s Safer Venue service provides customers with comprehensive annual inspections and repairs. Nobody likes major repair work or safety incidents that could have been prevented—yearly maintenance is a must. 

The Elgin Community College Arts Center’s recent Safer Venue Inspection identified several rigging issues that needed to be addressed. Flyhouse is always inventing better ways to make rigging systems operate smoother and safer, and our annual venue visits provide the opportunity for improvements and updates. 

ElginCC_Pics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


In addition to regular maintenance, Flyhouse was also awarded a larger renovation project at the Art Center; its scope was designed by theater consultant Bill Connor Associates, LLC. The project included the installation of nine custom ZipLift counterweight assist hoists with a custom head block, which allowed the powered hoist to easily retrofit into their existing system. This newly designed hoist can safely move a lineset up to 1000 pounds out of weight. The orchestra shells that exist at Elgin CC weigh close to 4000 pounds and now with the theater upgrades provided, operators are able to move them by the push of a button instead of hanging on the handline hoping that they move a few inches.

Flyhouse has been moving scenery and performers with our custom designed ZipLift hoists since 1998 and we’re extremely experienced in automating things. Our newest hoist is currently being used at Elgin CC but it’s Elgin's custom control system that makes this project truly unique. In just two weeks, we modified the system to integrate all nine units into one custom cabinet for all of the power and controls. Now all nine hoists are controlled by one pendant while the person is standing anywhere onstage, keeping a line of sight on the hoist-assisted linesets flying these extremely large amounts of weight to programmable trims.

In recent years, the Elgin CC Arts Center has primarily been used for concerts, but now the venue is suited for musical productions and much more. The repairs and updates will be complete in time for the 25th anniversary season which begins this fall. We can’t wait to see how these facility improvements put a little more zip in future Elgin CC productions!

Topics: Hoist, Theatrical Rigging, Flyhouse Projects

Macy's Flag Raising

Posted by Flyhouse on May 26, 2017 12:00:26 PM

While the tradition of having a flag hang in Macy's (previously Marshall Fields building) atrium began in 1916, Chicago Flyhouse has assisted in making the flag happen since 2003. Hanging over seven stories high, the flag is an amazing site to behold. See the video below to get a quick glimpse of how we made it happen.

 

 

Topics: Hoist, Video, Project Recaps, Flyhouse Projects

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Ability Lab: Part Two

Posted by Flyhouse on Mar 27, 2017 9:48:14 AM

When Flyhouse envisioned a system for the new Ability Lab, we had a distinctive train of thought. We know it might frighten you to be inside our head, but let us walk you through it.

The aesthetics of a room is important. It can create an open and bright environment on the path to recovery or it can create a sterile hospital feel. We knew we had to keep in mind that the beautiful two-story glass view of the lake from the 19th floor should not be compromised by installing a fully exposed system but at the same time, it should safely protect a patient from any fall on the grand staircase. Hide the motors from sight and make sure all components are quiet when operating. The system should also be simple enough to fully train the therapist in control of it in less than two hours. Above all, the patient should have little to no distractions which will allow them to focus solely on their recovery.

In the summer of 2016, Flyhouse created a mock up within our shop to ensure it worked the way we wanted it to within the restrictions presented at the hospital. The three-month mock-up included an entire functioning system that closely mimicked the size of the stairs and facility dimensions in which we had to work.

(Pre-Installation at Flyhouse Shop)

While the shop built stairs and installed the necessary components to test the system, the electrical shop began the development of a simplified software to allow for ease of use once completed. In each step of the process, Flyhouse had the patient and therapist in mind.

So what’s within this simplified system?

A custom console located near the bottom of the coordinated system’s steps and an ergonomically designed handheld wireless controller which controls the coordinated system with both operating simultaneously. The console shows the system use in real time including the patient's path, speed, the amount of load for each axis point and the max load. This is also the area where if something happens within the system, both the console and the controller would notify the user. If for any reason the system needs to be stopped immediately, the console and controller have E-Stops which can be engaged.

The simplified software eliminates the need for advanced training by making the system intuitive to the operator.

“The key for Flyhouse was to create a system that looked beautiful in the room, functioned well, intuitive to operate, and didn’t interfere with the goal of rehabbing the patient,” Witteveen said.

In September 2016, Executives and Physical Therapists from the Ability Lab came to Flyhouse for a first-hand look at the system in action. Not only did we demonstrate the system, we got a physical therapist in a harness and had them walk the entire path of the system while another used the controller to recreate scenarios commonly seen in their day-to-day work.

Topics: Hoist, Performer Flying, Flyhouse Projects

Making a Star Rise: Chi-Town Rising Returns

Posted by Flyhouse on Dec 2, 2016 9:37:51 AM

When you start a New Year’s Eve tradition on a massive scale in the third largest city in the country, you need to make a statement.

To ring in 2016, Arena Partners connected with Chicago Flyhouse and others to create Chi-Town Rising; an event and memorable night for the nearly 100,000 in attendance waiting for a New Year to begin.

How could this event rival other established events around the world? The answer is simple: feature a Chicago icon rising.

The second star of the city of Chicago flag represents the Great Chicago Fire which destroyed the city and how the city rose from the ashes.

A project of this scale requires meticulous planning to make sure the event and actual raising of the Star has no issues. From full conceptualization to full completion, Flyhouse and its event partners had approximately two and a half months to make it happen.

The New York City event lowers a ball 12-feet in diameter to usher in the New Year. Collaborators for the Chicago event knew the Star should be larger in comparison. Standing at 70 feet from top to bottom (eight stories tall on the building) and weighing over 12,000 pounds, it is safe to say there is no comparison to other events.

Chi Town Rising Star Shell

The structure of the Star is made up of 2,600 feet (or a half mile) of 2” tube and 850 feet of 1” tube. The design by Flyhouse and ONE618 also incorporates the use of four cables and roof-mounted hoists. The four custom built Flyhouse hoist motors each provide a 30-horsepower capacity and weigh 950 pounds each giving the Star a rate of ascension at three feet per second. Flyhouse also fabricated custom 16” sheaves allowing 1,400 feet of wire rope to raise the Star.

The real challenge came in the form of having this enormous structure rise 360 feet up the side of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago to countdown to 2016.

To do this, Flyhouse permanently placed 86 steel plates on the building allowing for steel tracks to be connected each year. The plates provide a way to install two 360-foot steel I-beams (24,000 pounds) to the face of the building to act as a guide for the Star to rise. Another 10,000 pounds on the top of the building support the cantilever and Star. The four roof-mounted hoists have a 4,000-pound capacity each and provide redundancy and safety for the ascension; if any one of the motors were to fail, the Star would still rise.

Timing became a major factor during the installation. The most efficient method to install the steel beams and motors on the roof was to have a helicopter bring the material up so the team could secure it. The helicopter was only available one day during the set-up and with its help, the process only took 17 minutes to get the materials on the roof.

Other partners in the design process, ONE618 and CULTURE22, gave the Star LED video capabilities allowing for images of the event and promotional material to be shown on the Star to catch the attention of all onlookers below.

When the time came, the months of fabrication and hours of installation paid off. At midnight, the Star made its ascent to the top of the building bringing Chicago into 2016.

Flyhouse is doing it all over again for 2017.

Chi Town Rising Star

Want to see more of the event? Take a look back at our previous Chi-Town Rising post.

Topics: Hoist, News, Flyhouse History, Project Recaps, Chi Town Rising