WASHINGTON, DC – It’s been said that every great building has a personality. The massive Renaissance Revival structure, located just a little over a mile from The White House, hosts many of them within its towering walls.
Home of The National Building Museum, it features multiple exhibits of architectural brilliance, but in terms of “personality,” this 137-year-old structure makes an impression that is second to none. That much is evident when visitors enter this mammoth structure (its interior measures 316 x 116 feet), and encounter its eight sequoia-like columns, inspired by Trajan’s Column of ancient Rome.
George Cannon brought these and other features of the building to life recently when he lit the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association International (AFCEA) winter gala. Collaborating with Benjamin Tschudin, the Director of Live Events for 4Wall DC Production, Cannon highlighted the details of this building, from the most stunning to the most subtle, all while respecting its architectural aesthetics and enriching the event taking place inside.
Helping him accomplish this was a collection of roughly 150 CHAUVET Professional fixtures from 4Wall’s own inventory.
Playing a key role in the design were 18 Maverick MK 3 Wash fixtures, which helped set the mood for the event in a variety of ways. In addition to contributing to lighting the towering columns, the versatile RGBW wash was used to create festive looks throughout the space with a variety of gobos.
Cannon positioned his Maverick MK3 Washes along with 18 Rogue R2X Washes on truss positioned 100-feet overhead. The MK3 units were flown over the space’s East Court, while the R2s were over the West Court.
Also contributing to the design were the rig’s 12 Maverick MK3 Profile fixtures, six of which were placed on truss in the central court to highlight its fountain with color and texture. The fixtures were also used to colorize the space’s large, impressive drapes. Drawing on the Maverick MK3 Profile’s 9:1 zoom ratio, Cannon relied on it to change coverage areas, to create different looks throughout the course of the event.
The six other Maverick MK3 Profiles were positioned half on the north section of the space, and half on the south. They helped set the seasonal mood by projecting snowflake gobos on the ceiling and walls.
Creating a unifying flow of color throughout the event were the rig’s 100 or so WELL Fit fixtures. “At this event we were lighting all three courts of the venue with WELL Fits,” said Cannon. “There are columns that run the entire perimeter of the building that are similar to the main eight giant columns; and we used the Wells to hit those. We also used some to light the entrance lobby’s as well as relying on some extras to highlight scenic pieces placed around the space, such as trees, plants, or bar fronts.”
A reliable rig was only one of the elements that helped Cannon create an engaging aura at this event. Aside from collaborating with Tschudin, he benefited from the skill of teammates who often work with him on museum events.
“My job was made easier because of a group of highly talented people,” he said. “LD Chris Burkholder who doubles as support when I’m on board, was invaluable. It’s always great to bounce ideas back and forth together. Garth Dolan is an extremely knowledgeable L2/ME who keeps the rig in tip top shape. He will keep track of all the equipment and usually does all the focusing of the ellipsoidals on third floor. Rob Powers is also responsible for being a L2/ME for this space, and is usually there for the early calls to bring the trusses down in the morning for the drapes to be installed.”
A talented team and a reliable rig are key to making an event memorable, believes Cannon—and of course, working in a magnificent historic building doesn’t hurt either.