Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Who Designs Events?

With 2 million spectators, a $170 million budget and a security force of nearly 43,000, the inaugural events for U.S. president Barack Obama in Washington were quite a design challenge.

Who designs events like these? There is an organization, a newsleter and an annual conference for event designers that students should know about. Click on the heading above to learn about the upcoming conference for event designers.

The 10 "official" inaugural balls ranged from the Commander-in-Chief's Ball to the Western Inaugural Ball. Six of the 10 official balls took place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Other ball venues were the DC Armory, Washington Hilton, National Building Museum and Union Station.

Festivities started Sunday with the public "We Are One" celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. Monday night saw the Kids' Inaugural Concert at Verizon Center and the series of three bipartisan dinners, which honor Americans who have devoted their lives to public service. Yesterday began with the official swearing-in, followed by the inaugural luncheon and parade.

Lanham, Md.-based Hargrove ( --a major contractor for every presidential inaugural since Harry S Truman took office in 1949--designed much of the Obama inauguration. As official general contractor for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Hargove fabricated stages and other decor for the official inaugural balls and seven parade floats, along with decor for related events.

Hargrove's event slate alone included more than 40 official and private events in more than 30 venues over a six-day period. The company used 45,000 board feet of lumber, 3,000 sheets of plywood, 500 gallons of paint, 400 rolls of carpet, 100,000 yards of fabric and 100,000 square feet of signs, seals, banners and other graphics to help create the decor.

Chicago-based Event Architects ( was asked only three weeks before the event by the Presidential Inaugural Committee to produce events including the bipartisan dinners and the Commander-in-Chief's Ball.

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