Creating a memorable experience for 1,000 attendees at an exclusive Mary J. Blige concert on Liberty Island was no simple feat for Kevin Lee Allen Design (KLAD), but with the help of inspiring ideas, improvisation, and creative problem solving, the firm succeeded in the form of the Beechwood House.
The event was unique not only due to its location in front of New York City’s Statue of Liberty, but also because of the VIP experience KLAD created at Beechwood House. This portable, 1,600-square-foot structure afforded attendees stunning views of the statue while providing an on-brand experience for sponsor Anheuser-Busch and its Monument series of shows in advance of its Made in America music festival taking place this weekend in Philadelphia.
One of the challenges KLAD faced is that the structure had to look good both in reality and on television. “The Beechwood House was a branding opportunity,” says Kevin Lee Allen, founder of KLAD, which was hired to both light the space and design the actual structure. “It was featured in national commercials throughout the summer, which required some television lighting, such as incandescent fixtures inside and around the structure.”
The camera shoot didn’t involve heavy lighting, instead relying on ambient light bouncing off the stage. As such, the interior was not meant to be overly bright, according to Allen, but rather warm and inviting, “like the sponsor’s Budweiser beer.” To achieve this branded look and Anheuser-Busch’s desire to appear authentic to its Millennial audience, Allen and the KLAD team relied on Vectorworks Spotlight with Renderworks software to present detailed models throughout the design process and make changes on the fly as they refined their plan.
The resulting two-story structure came together with a traditional post and beam construction made of beechwood and a hidden steel infrastructure. The first level opened up to the outdoor concert space while the upper level, accessed through a repurposed shipping container, offered VIPs stunning views of the show.
Creating this space right next to a national monument came with multiple challenges. For example, the pieces of the structure had to be delivered to the statue’s home on Liberty Island via barges with only enough room for four, 24-foot trucks while also leaving enough aisle space for security personnel to inspect the cargo. Once on the island, park regulations prohibited the trucks from being driven to the statue itself, so all the materials had to be offloaded and either rolled or fork-lifted to the site. Even more difficult, the structure needed to be assembled in a way that wouldn’t interrupt the park staff as they led daily visitors around the public monument.
Adding to this logistical struggle was the issue of time. “We had initially presented a three-month schedule for the design and build,” says Allen. “The program ended up changing drastically because we originally pitched our vision for Beechwood House to Anheuser-Busch for their Made in America festival series. Well, they liked the idea so much that they accelerated the timeline and asked us to create Beechwood for the kickoff concert with Mary J. Blige two months earlier. This left us with barely a week for construction and installation. The fact that the design and construction teams were all sharing the same Vectorworks files helped make the delivery possible.”
If you happen to be in the Philadelphia area this weekend, you can check out KLAD’s design for Budweiser’s Made in America festival!