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Sports banners score big points

Graphics | September 1, 2013 | By:

The project: ESPN World Cup soccer banners

The company: Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures Inc., St. Louis, Mo. Engineer: Wayne Rendely, PE. Project manager: Jim Knoche, Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures. Marketing firm: Creative Dimensions Inc.

The task: Install banners at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., acknowledging the 32 teams advancing to the World Cup Tournament in South Africa in June and July 2010.

The challenge: Construct eight pods (posts and banner assemblies) supporting four different countries’ flags/banners. Each pod represents a pool of four teams playing each other at the start of the tournament. The concept started with renderings that had to be tweaked as engineering requirements and fabric attachment methods were satisfied. Reinforced concrete piers were installed before the winter ground freeze so the pods could be installed the first part of March.

The solution: A combination of cable tension and structure supported the banners on each pod. The main masts, six 15-foot high and two 12-foot high, were welded to base plates on a 15-degree angle. The structures were engineered for 90-mile-per-hour winds and the anchoring system was universal, made with the option of rotating each pod 45 degrees and allowing the four differently shaped pods to change locations in the future. The banners were made with Ultra Flex 70/30 Mesh Supreme, 70-percent open vinyl mesh. Double-faced ink jet print was mirrored so the copy didn’t shadow. To exhibit quality, the welded areas were smoothed where the steel framework had multiple combination miters. Holes were cut in the main mast to accept structural arms that were welded at the entry point and on the opposite side through another hole in the mast that was eventually plug welded and smoothed over.

The result: The installation went extremely well and the entire project was a hit with everyone at ESPN. The pods and banners were shipped to the ESPN site with installation instructions and installed by the marketing firm.

Dara Syrkin is a freelance writer and editor who admires the folks making science and art collide in the fabric graphics industry.

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