Closing the books on its third year, the Seattle Art Fair drew collectors and admirers from near and far to view some of the best in modern and contemporary art. The three-day event, produced by Vulcan Inc and Art Market Productions, featured big names like Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso, as well as many others waiting to be discovered.
Art fair sponsors and organizers had access to a private VIP lounge, a pop-up space that varies in look and feel from year to year. This year’s lounge was designed by Perkins+Will and constructed by GLY. While small in comparison to both firms’ typical projects, the lounge presented just as many challenges and opportunities as a project ten times larger. We asked the P+W and GLY team about the experience.
WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS GOING INTO THE PROJECT?
Molly Baker, P+W Interior Designer: The overarching goal was to work collaboratively with the entire team [GLY, furniture vendors Objekts and Inform Interiors, lighting designer Graypants, and electrical designer Stantec] to create a temporary structure that achieved these three objectives:
- Limited or better yet…no waste
- Prefabrication [build almost entirely offsite]
- Strong design concept worthy of the Seattle Art Fair
Tyler Tonkin, GLY Principal: Our primary goal was to support P+W’s need for fluidity in design options right up to the moment we received access to the event space for construction and assembly. We collaborated on smart ways to modularize the design into a quick-to-build solution using readily available materials, looked great, and could be repurposed after the event. I think the VIP lounge turned out even better than we expected it would—and we had a lot of fun—which is always important!
WHAT ROLE DID SUSTAINABILITY PLAY IN THE DESIGN?
Molly, P+W: We worked closely with GLY to understand available materials, attributes, and sizes in order to design a structure that could be disassembled without creating any waste. Everything is reusable.
Josh Lewis, GLY Project Manager: All materials were returned to GLY’s tool and equipment yard and subsequently deployed to other current projects.
WHAT MATERIALS WERE USED?
Josh, GLY: We used Doug Fir Lumber for the framing and SPF for the slats. Furniture used ACX plywood and plexiglass.
WHAT LESSONS LEARNED DID YOU APPLY BASED ON PAST YEARS’ FEEDBACK ON THE LOUNGE?
Molly, P+W:Luckily, Art Market Productions, Vulcan, and the catering team shared great lessons learned from previous years, most of which emphasized early coordination with our design team, logistics for GLY, and the furniture installation.
WHAT DID YOU WANT PEOPLE TO EXPERIENCE IN THE SPACE?
Molly, P+W:We hoped to provide a space that encouraged curiosity and created a sense of ‘see and be seen.’
Josh, GLY: The concept of the simple slatted barriers provided a space that is separate from the Art Fair, yet still seen as part of the Fair; essentially, it’s a piece of art as well. The slatted walls also brought light into the space and allowed wind to blow through. The last thing we wanted were walls falling down!
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE DURING THE PROCESS?
Molly, P+W: Once we had the design concept, we had to run with it pretty quickly and get our team on board. It was truly a pop-up in every sense of the word. It can be difficult to track and coordinate when a project moves this quickly, but we had an incredible team of people who really knew what they were doing and we were all able to lean on each other’s strengths throughout the process.
Trevor Stout, GLY Foreman: Time was the number one challenge. I got the prints on Monday and started building Wednesday. The quick start was followed by a short build duration. We had three days of offsite building for the walls and furniture. On the following Monday morning, we had three days to piece everything together on-site to meet a noon deadline on Thursday, just hours before the Beneficiary Preview.
We had to work through logistics as well. We built all the walls and furniture and trucked them to CenturyLink Field. Building them strong enough to survive the trip, yet light enough to move quickly by hand [no crane or forklift on this site] was a challenge in and of itself. Our original plan to back our truck up, roll up the door, and unload right there on the lounge site was quickly shot down. The lounge had an indoor/outdoor footprint and due to security we needed to use the loading dock, located on the opposite side of the event center. Carting everything by hand through the art fair sounds like a not-so-big problem, but the added time—maneuvering around hundreds of others setting up exhibits as well—nixed another hour from our already short countdown to launch.This was the only project I’ve ever literally counted down by the minute. We set doors and painted walls five minutes before turnover! From nimble assembly at the GLY yard to flexible craftspeople all around, our team was determined not to fail. And we pulled it off.
GIVEN P+W’S INITIAL DESIGN, DID GLY HAVE TO MAKE ADJUSTMENTS TO ENSURE FEASIBLE CONSTRUCTION?
Trevor, GLY: Perkins+Will’s drawings were thorough. They gave us permission to make small changes as needed in the field, as long as the concept was maintained. Meetings and RFIs weren’t feasible with the short time frame, so being given some leeway was a huge help.
Josh, GLY: The design was feasible as long as we planned the production and construction process accurately. For example, the wall sections could be built ahead of time offsite, but the slats you see in the image below had to align perfectly from section to section to keep the lines fluid. Knowing the levelness of the event center ground wouldn’t match ours, it made sense to do this on site to ensure the precision of the design.
HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY FEEDBACK YET? DID THE SPACE MEET YOUR GOALS?
Molly, P+W: We received some really great feedback on social media. I would say we definitely met our goals and would LOVE to do it again next year!