The city of Chicago has prepared for the media spotlight this weekend as the NFL has moved its annual draft events from New York to the heart of the Midwest this year. Tourists and locals alike can visit Grant Park to take part in a number of activities as part of the “Draft Town” built up specifically for this event. While the draft itself is taking place at nearby Roosevelt University, the free fun takes place in the park. Events include a flag football festival, Super Bowl museum, football celebrity autographs, and even a lightshow at the famous Buckingham Fountain, as the city changes the colors on the fountain to represent the NFL team which is currently on the clock waiting to draft.
While visiting Grant Park, many patrons will have the chance to view some of Chicago’s finest examples of curved steel. Always a tourist attraction, the nearby Millennium Park is an extension of Chicago’s Grant Park and contains the famous Cloud Gate sculpture and Pritzker Pavilion. Cloud Gate, or “The Bean” as it is affectionately known, displays a 3/8″ thick curved stainless steel façade that has been polished to a mirror finish. The complex topological curved steel surface required computer and robotic assistance to create properly. The plates were fabricated so precisely that no on-site cutting or filing was necessary when lifting and fitting them into position to be welded together.
Nearby Pritzker Pavilion features both a curved stainless steel band shell with a ribbon like effect, as well as curved arches made from rolled pipe which varies in diameter from 12 to 20 inches. The curved pipe trellis allows for an open lawn structure to support the speaker system and has become very popular for local music and film events. The use of curved steel pipe was preferred by designer Frank Gehry over the alternative of using vertical columns or pipes to support the speakers as it worked together with the curved band shell more aesthetically.