Brian Hire, presentation consultant, systems integrator, and lighting designer for Steelcase, a leading contract furniture manufacturer based in Grand Rapids, MI, was adding up rental costs for an upcoming corporate event. The total: $125,000 for two days. Reviewing rentals over the past three years revealed an even larger number: $850,000. After considering other options, Hire put together an equipment list for purchase; the total price versus the rental cost for three years was comparable, so a proposal was drafted and accepted surprisingly quickly - the project had to be completed within six weeks.

Across the street from Steelcase corporate offices was a little-used manufacturing facility, 60' wide, 45' high and 240' long. Steelcase project manager Carl Leismer and director of corporate facilities Jim Lawler hired local architecture firm Progressive to convert the space. General contractor was D&D Building; electrical contractor was AES. Aria Show Technology & Service provided rigging, lighting, and drapery; CSG supplied video projection and switching; and Thunder Production Group contributed the audio system.

Equipment includes Clay Paky Stage Zoom and Stage Color 1200s, High End Systems Color Pro[R] HXIs, ETC Source Fours and Source Four PARs, an Avolites Pearl 2000 with digitizing pad and truss-mount DMX opto-splitters, Interactive Technologies radio DMX transceivers, Applied Electronics box truss, Coffing Hoists motors and Motion Laboratories 12-way motor controller, Lex Products distribution cable, Electrol 42-circuit touring rack for stage lighting, an ETC Unison DR12 cabinet for house lighting, and PCI 16-circuit DMX relay cabinets for high-bay lighting. Staging was provided by Stage Right and soft goods were from Milliken and Gerriets International.

After construction was completed there were four days to get all the equipment loaded in and up and running before the North American management meeting, which Hire says went quite smoothly considering the short time frame. "Our slogan is `transforming the way people work,'" Hire explains, "but what we really do is transform spaces, so having transformed that steel receiving dock into a `town hall' in that period of time said a lot about what we're about.

"It was a pretty exciting project given the fact that it had to be designed to go on the road," he continues, "and we had to cover `soup to nuts' in our events because we not only have things like management meetings, but we just had a dealer gala in June where we had a blues band in from Detroit. That's really what the system is about: versatility. We can empty the space in about a six-hour load-out and load it into any other facility in about the same amount of time, and be up and running with sound, lights, and video. Part of the cost justification for this goes back to the equipment we were renting for our larger shows on the road."

He concludes, "You couldn't have done this stuff 10 years ago or even two years ago, so it's really cool."