As part of the complete redesign of their Oceanarium, Chicago’s world-renowned Shedd Aquarium unveiled their multi-media marine mammal show Fantasea – a Broadway-style performance incorporating light, sound, and scenic effects to spectacularly showcase their dolphins and Beluga whales. To help uphold the Shedd’s promise of “an unforgettable theater experience,” Chicago Flyhouse designed and installed a state-of-the-art rigging components throughout the Oceanarium, including an “invisible” tension grid that spans the entire Marine Mammal staging area.

The mesh “floor” is comprised of more than 50 conjoined panels framed in structural aluminum that range in size from 4 x 8 to 8 x 15, each supporting a rigidly stretched woven grid of saltwater-proof stainless steel cabling.

Over 5,000′ of 1/8″ stainless steel wire rope was used to create a fully walkable “floor” that allows the show’s performers and technicians to walk freely and safely above the audience and the pools, while the grid itself practically disappears to the eye, allowing the true ceiling height to remain fully visible.

“The technicians needed complete access to all the lighting and audio equipment,” said Flyhouse Project Manager Mark Witteveen. “And at the same time, it was vital to preserve the Shedd ‘s aesthetics to not distract from the new animal environments they’ve created. The flying performers had to have safe means to enter and exit. The grid protects the staff, audience, and animals to give total freedom of access, and is visually discreet.”

In addition to supporting lights and several 750lb speaker clusters, the grid houses a projection booth that works in conjunction with Flyhouse’s enormous 8,000lb motorized projection screen and light control curtain.

For more information about the Shedd Aquarium visit their website.