Rolled Stainless Steel Half-Pipe for the Eternal Flame of Hope

This summer, the city of Chicago hosted an international celebration for the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics. The event just wrapped up on July 21, 2018.

As a tribute to the Special Olympics and to mark the 50th anniversary, the Chicago Park District and Special Olympics erected a 30’ tall, 10’ diameter permanent monument of stainless steel. The monument – named the “Eternal Flame of Hope” – is meant to “convey the hope for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.” The monument is located on Soldier Field’s North Lawn, off McFetridge Avenue. Soldier Field is the site of the first Special Olympics, 50 years ago.

The monument was designed by artist Richard Hunt and Brian Monaghan. They worked with Chicago Metal Rolled Products to create a robust frame out of stainless steel that would be strong enough to hold a tall flame and match the aesthetic of the sculpture.

The design started at the base with a rolled 12” stainless steel pipe approximately a 10’ diameter. During the planning phase, the artists were thrilled to hear that the 12″ stainless steel pipe could be split in half, then rolled and wrapped around a cylinder. This stainless steel half pipe gives the illusion of a cylinder sitting on top of a full stainless steel pipe, as desired by the artists. We helped the customer make this at half of the cost by cutting a stainless steel pipe in two.

12" Stainless Steel Half Pipe
12″ Stainless Steel Half Pipe Tack Welded to the Cylinder

The design also called for a curved Special Olympic logo. The final insignia would be a curved flat ¼” plate with ¼” letters and shapes welded to the base plate to give an embossed look and feel.

This layered plate was unique. Typically, we see cut or relieved lettering in steel signage. Initially, the artist thought it would be best to form the base plate, letters and shapes separately to avoid distortion issues that sometimes occur during the forming process and then weld the pieces together after forming. However, the fabricator indicated this would be an issue because they would be using a plug type weld from the rear of the base plate to secure the letters and shapes.

CMRP suggested testing the forming process with a small sample piece of the insignia. In the picture, you can see the test piece made of carbon steel which helps validate the rolling process for the actual insignia.

Carbon Steel Insignia Test Sample
Carbon Steel Insignia Test Sample

While forming the sample, CMRP noticed there were different in plate thickness (between ¼” & ½”) because certain areas contained the raised, welded-on letters and shapes. This caused kinks in some areas, instead of a smooth curve. This deformation was undesirable, but not unmanageable. We recommended that the fabricator create a laser-cut “filler plate” to add on top of the insignia that would fill in the relief areas. This way the entire plate would be an even ½” thick. Once rolled, the tack welds could be broken and the “filler plate” removed. This theory worked flawlessly on the actual insignia – after the “filler plate” was removed, it revealed a smoothly curved insignia that gave the embossed look requested by the artist.

The “Eternal Flame of Hope” with a rolled stainless steel pipe base was unveiled and dedicated on Friday, July 20, 2018.

Eternal Flame of Hope Monument
Eternal Flame of Hope Monument
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