Star Wars Overtakes Omaha Theater Lobby
Dimensional Innovations spends weeks creating an immersive tribute to the saga.
The brains behind the new Alamo Drafthouse theater in Omaha, Nebraska, wanted to offer the coolest movie-going experience in the Midwest, so they turned to a source of inspiration that can be described as none other than legendary: Star Wars. Interdisciplinary designers from Dimensional Innovations (DI), based in the greater area of Kansas City, Kansas, transformed the venue’s lobby from floor to ceiling with a permanent, life-size experience that would stay true to the saga’s character.
As DI dove into the planning of the project, it became clear that this was no ordinary undertaking. Enlisting the help of architect Kip Coleman (Elevation Architect) and contractor Sheldon Oxner (National Commercial Builders), they began to design and build a setting that would feature an enormous Death Star towering above the lobby and a life-size emperor’s throne.
“[The Death Star] dwarfs the whole lobby,” says Derek Dillon, creative manager at the Alamo Drafthouse, in a video on DI’s YouTube channel.
The feature is 10 feet in diameter and required 230 square feet of 3M Controltac vinyl, about three days’ worth of print time on the shop’s Roland VS-540 printer/plotter – and printing was only the first step.
“It was a little more involved than most of our projects,” says Trent Zagorsky, project manager, of the process that also required laminating, re-rolling, and plotting in order to create each individual panel. Additional parts of the sphere were hand cut and painted, and each illuminated window was individually drilled out.
The backdrop of the emperor’s throne – which features a button that prompts the Death Star to shoot a laser across the lobby – was also printed on the VS-540, using approximately 115 square feet of vinyl and matte laminate.
And then there was the matter of installation, which took three full weeks and, at times, 10 team members. Zagorsky says the Death Star was installed using an overhead winch, left in place permanently to allow for easy maintenance of the special effects, which can also be controlled remotely from the manager’s office using a CPU.
The labor was worth it for the complete, immersive experience, says Dillon. “It’s like you’re walking into a Star Destroyer.”
The team didn’t seem to mind, either. “One of our sculptors wore a different Star Wars shirt every day to work for 17 days straight,” says Brad Woods, DI practice designer, in an article on Kansas City news source KSHB.
And that passion isn’t limited to sculptors, as evidenced by a surge in ticket sales for the launch of the saga's latest chapter.
Read more from our January/February Spring Ideas issue here.