suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Thinc Design, Urban A&O, & Unified Field: GE’s “American Competitiveness: What Works” was a five-day showcase of presentations, discussions, interviews and receptions that brought together CEOs, government officials, and industry leaders for a look at the kinds of innovation and leadership likely to increase American jobs and strengthen the US economy. Hosted by General Electric in the extraordinary Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C., it combined a central presentation space with subject-specific exhibit islands focused on four aspects of GE’s American-focused businesses: growing a skilled American workforce; cutting-edge manufacturing in the US; GE’s 130 years of technological innovation; and GE’s global markets—of suppliers and customers—that contribute to the American economy.
Additionally, the exhibition included several areas of gesture-based interaction and physical displays of significant GE technology and products.
The Mellon Auditorium is an early Twentieth Century neoclassical structure. Into its colonnaded main hall, we inserted our design of powerfully dynamic, white fabric structures to shape the different functional areas with sweeping forms and luminous projection and colored lighting. A trio of structures, one of which towered more than thirty feet in the air, defined the exhibit areas that focused on the workforce, manufacturing, and innovation. With media projected directly onto their vertical surfaces, each was effectively a mini-theatre carved out of the huge hall. One gesture-based, U-shaped interactive table provided opportunities for groups of visitors to engage with a GE representative.
Defining a fourth exhibition area and linking it to the main stage, three more forms swept from the floor into the air in an arc that was more than 150 feet long. At one end, a second, U-shaped interactive table enabled users to explore global supply chains and the global destinations of GE’s US-manufactured products. Its other end formed the main presentation screen for the stage, hovering over a series of sweeps composed into a presentation background.
Because the Mellon has no capacity for hanging any structures of any kind, the majority of the exhibition was either hung or stabilized from an elegantly-constructed, floor-supported truss grid. Unusual because of its long, unsupported spans (up to 70 feet) which also supported most of the lighting and projection equipment, the network of black trusswork receded into the background through ingenious lighting techniques. The entire exhibition was installed in a period of just under three days, broken down into segments that would fit through the facility’s standard doors. The white structures were constructed in bent and welded 2” aluminum tube, wrapped in white fabric. The project was conceived, built, installed, and dismantled in ten weeks.