Earlier this fall, Zahner collaborated with Redmoon experiential theater group on the design of The Resilience Skyline. The project was part of the Great Chicago Fire Festival, an annual festival to honor the city’s resurgence after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The festival includes an annual burning and serves to unite the many neighborhoods of Greater Chicago.

The Resilience Skyline is an artwork composed of vertical metal panels, manufactured in stainless steel, and perforated to appear as part of the Chicago skyline. Organized by Redmoon’s Elyse Agnello and Zahner’s Andrew Manto, the duo gathered 20 local Chicago architects from 7 local firms to design panels using the ImageWall app.

Developed by Zahner as part of the ShopFloor platform, ImageWall is a perforated panel system designed for interior applications. The system can be custom-modified to produce exterior facade systems, or in this case, an artistic backdrop for a live event.

Making the Great Chicago Fire Festival

Among the designers who came together, many were represented by design institutes and notable Chicago architectural offices:

The team of architects gathered at the Redmoon office for a casual design charrette. Designers crafted patterns using ShopFloor’s ImageWall Webapp, which were then fabricated and shipped by Zahner.

After creating the designs using the ImageWall Webapp, the ShopFloor software automatically produced the cut-files and engineering documents to prepare the panels for fabrication. Zahner manufactured the laser-cut panels at the Grand Prairie, Texas shop. Zahner shipped the flat perforated sheets to the Kansas City shop where fabricators manufactured the panels.

Each of the panels was made using Angel Hair stainless steel, a proprietary surface developed by Zahner for muted reflectivity. The panels were formed into ready-to-install sections and shipped to Chicago.

Agnello and Manto designed a simple armature framework which form the structure of the ImageWall panels. The simple structure was fabricated by members of the Redmoon team, pictured below.

During the festival, the panels were raised into place by performers following the burning of the “GRIT House”, a very real symbol of the Great Chicago Fire, explained further on the Redmoon website.

“In Summer 2015, the GRIT activity — Group Ritual Imagining Tool — was distributed citywide to 50,000 youth. Led by a facilitator, youth explored the Fire Festival’s themes of grit, greatness and renewal. Young people wrote personal statements of their experience of resilience, beginning with the prompts: “I Celebrate…” and “I Overcome…”. Thousands of “I Overcome…” statements were used to clad the G.R.I.T. House that was ceremoniously burned during the citywide participatory spectacle. The GRIT activity was distributed to youth through Park District Day Camps, After School Matters internship programs, Boys and Girls Clubs.”