Event Profile: Art and a world record, Karl's Event Services

Karl’s builds massive structure and stage for art fair in New York

Event: The Frieze Art Fair New York held May 4-7, 2012, at Randall’s Island Park in Manhattan.

Background: The Frieze Art Fair takes place each year in Regent’s Park in London. This year, the Frieze Art Fair expanded to New York with its inaugural fair in Manhattan.

Timeline: Karl’s Event Services, Oak Creek, Wis., worked with the Frieze Art Fair for more than a year to plan the massive project. It took 30 days to transport and install the tent and 10 days to break it down.

Other companies involved: In addition to the main structure, Karl’s provided numerous ancillary tents and Bil-Jax floors. CAT Entertainment Services, Kenilworth, N.J., provided the HVAC and power for the event.

Major items used: Six 50m-by-60m clearspans were attached with triangle-shaped wedges to create the nearly 230,000-sq.-ft. tent. Karl’s had used wedge-shaped clearspan tent sections in a number of applications to create curved structure setups before, but this was the first time using them in such a way to create a unique snake-like tent design, says George Strickland, vice president of national sales for Karl’s Event Services.

The six 50m-by-60m clearspan sections were standard inventory items. The tent was designed by SO-IL of Brooklyn and the structure was manufactured and built by Karl’s for the Frieze Art Fair. More than 18,000 pieces of Bil-Jax flooring were used. The sheer size of the project led to an application for, and designation of, a Guinness World Record for the largest single-unit marquee and largest temporary stage.

Challenges and solutions: The structure was staked in most places. Where staking was prohibitive, each leg was weighted with more than 10,000 lbs. of ballast, Strickland says. “Setting up one larger clearspan has the same installation process as setting up a smaller clearspan, but it provides a larger space with fewer interior legs and anchors.”

What went well and why: “Karl’s stayed on or ahead of the set schedule throughout the installation and dismantling process. The fair weather also was helpful for a smooth installation,” Strickland says.

Why rental is important for this type of event: “Rental provides a unique company/concept and the flexibility to create an equally unique venue,” Strickland says. “Frieze worked with an architect on this particular project to develop an idea that best suited its art fair needs. Partnering with Karl’s provided Frieze the opportunity to bring this idea to fruition. An existing convention/exhibit space would not have provided the design flexibility that they required.”

Setting a Guinness World Record: “We did not realize that this massive structure and stage beat the existing Guinness World Records until we were halfway through installation,” Strickland says. “At this point, we decided to apply for the new records and continued building as planned. To receive the world records, we were required to submit approved architectural drawings, documented paperwork, witness statements, photos and videos to prove the build of the temporary stage and tent.”

The previous record for the largest temporary tent was 130,000-sq.-ft. in size, built in Britain and manufactured by Clyde Canvas of Edinburgh, Lothian, Strickland says. The previous record for the largest temporary stage was or 78,318 sq. ft. and was built in Lisbon, Portugal, on July 7, 2007, by Realizer Impact Marketing for the Ceremony of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Karl’s received the world record for the largest single-unit marquee at 226,795.77 sq. ft. and the largest temporary stage at 275,007.44 sq. ft.

“We are very excited to have received two Guinness World Records,” Strickland says. “This is not only a milestone for Karl’s, but a milestone for the rental industry as it demonstrates the truly limitless possibilities when utilizing rental equipment for custom event spaces. More often at Karl’s we are seeing our custom design and manufacturing capabilities being a differentiator for us in the marketplace. The Frieze Art Fair is an example of this. We are honored to have been chosen to work on this project and to receive this world renowned title.”