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Flying the 'Skyline of the World'

(January 2008) posted on Thu Jan 10, 2008

Skyscrapers adorn airport terminal mural.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Peggy Middendorf

But the output phase would also prove challenging. For one, with the size of the project, even install errors of a fraction of an inch when multiplied by 99 panels could become a huge headache. In conferring with Absolute Installs from Madison, Wisconsin-the installing company that they rely on for difficult jobs-PGI noted that the ceiling slants dramatically from its normal 52 feet down to just 20 feet on the left side, complicating an already intricate install. The solution was to output most of panels in 50-inch x 54-foot strips, leaving a 1-inch overlap on both sides and 1-foot overlap on the top and bottom-a manageable size (and weight) for the installers to hold and precisely manipulate.

Another speed bump appeared in the process when the customer moved up the completion date by two weeks. "Our original plan was to print the entire mural and ship it in one piece, as a complete package," says Goley. "But we could no longer do this. So we decided to print 10 to 12 panels per day-this would allow us to just keep up with the installers."

Also of note was a change in the installation plan. Originally, the mural was designed to install from the far right, where the artist’s signature was found. But the accelerated schedule brought a different solution. Together, the two companies determined that beginning in the middle and adding strips on either side would be the best way to minimize cumulative errors. And since time was short and printing the project would take so long, PGI opted to print just ahead of Absolute Installs-shipping strips on an as-needed basis.

Certain things can’t be rushed

As you might suspect, not only were there snafus getting the right strips to the airport, the installers also had trouble getting the proper lifting equipment/forklifts. Absolute Install’s largest headaches, however, centered on getting through airport security each day.

"Security personnel were not readily willing to let three or four guys with cutting tools behind secured areas," says Goley. "Even though people at the airport were alerted days ahead of our arrival, it still was quite a fiasco. Most of the first day was lost due to these problems." The full install took three installers two weeks to complete.

Even with all of the challenges, however, the job was indeed completed on time and the terminal’s grand opening was held as scheduled at the end of August.

"This is by far the single largest grand-format piece that we have taken on-not only from a pre-press and printing standpoint, but especially the installation," says Goley.

Lessons learned from this project: "Even though we are in an extremely fast-paced business-and getting faster by the day-there are certain things that cannot be rushed," he says. "If we hadn’t had the time available to do the proper testing and retesting, there is absolutely no way that this project would have been as successful."