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 The Chicago Flyhouse, Inc., 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.
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 did it all over again for 2017.