Updated: Apr 22
By: Dani Bernal
The Eiffel Tower wouldn't be possible if it weren't for the efforts of structural engineers. If it weren't for Gustave Eiffel's carefully detailed design adaptations, the gorgeous and robust Eiffle tower structure would cease to exist.
Structural engineers ensure whatever designs are being executed are safe and financially pragmatic. Without a structural engineer, your event could easily be liable for disasters and unnecessary costs.
At Vision Matrix, we encourage event planners to consult with structural engineers if they are building a large-scale event, especially if there are stages involved.
Below are some things to keep in mind when executing your event from a structural engineer's perspective.
1. Let a structural engineer review before the event.
When you have to build a stage for your outdoor event, leave it to a structural engineer to ensure you have a stage that can withstand the loads and stress you are about to impose on it. Having a stage collapse would be dangerous and could result in lawsuits and bad press. A structural engineer will select the appropriate building materials for the stage and confirm that it is safe and ready to use for the event, which is a plus for setting up the perfect stage for your event.
One example of this could be seen in Travis Scotts Astroworld's 2021 tragedy. Not only was Astroworld 2021 a horrific turn of events, but all eyes were focused on the organizers and engineers of this event, not just Travis Scott.
2. Consult the AV team
Event planners might think they have it all under control until the AV team arrives with the equipment and fail to know how to plan the stage to fit everyone. A great stage has a good setup, and for you to have an immaculate structure, you need to consult with the AV team and know where exactly they would prefer the stage. Remember the stage must be the focal point or the center of attention for the whole event. Therefore, it is necessary to involve the AV team right from the start to avoid missing essential details that you might have otherwise overlooked.
3. Reach out to the speakers and performers
Consulting the AV company might seem enough, but wait until you talk to the speakers and the event's performers. It is always wise to be ready at all times, and this can only be made possible if you reach out to the speakers and ask them what they need. Some of them might need a projector for their presentation, and you need to have that detail in mind. Speaking to the performers, too, affects the size of your stage and the staging setup in general.
4. Proximity and angles
Your guests' comfortability is another crucial factor in your stage location. Your audience should be seated where the stage is easily visible. Being at an event where one can't see the stage is the worst. Slanting angles might cause strain on your audience, making it hard and uncomfortable to wait for the whole event.
Proximity, on the other hand, gives a one-on-one feeling between the person on stage and your audience. So as you plan your stage setup, ensure it is in a good place. As you arrange the seats, do not place the first row far away from the stage: the fewer the feet, the better. Make your audience feel like they have more engagement with the performers or presenters on stage.
Whether the event is in an outdoor setup or a conference room, how you set up your equipment is crucial. As important as every other factor might seem in setting up a stage, rigging has to be on the top of the list. Sound, lighting, video screens, and other special effect equipment must be top-notch. In a conference center, the ceiling or rather the room's vertical height can be a challenging factor; in such a situation, you can opt for LED lights that have the added benefit of using less power and a shorter vertical height than suspended lights. Remember, all this equipment takes up space, and it is necessary to know what to put where to begin.
6. Ensure there are no distractions
While some venues might be tricky to use, there must be no distractions to the view of your audience like pillars. However, if you find yourself in a venue with columns, try your best to choose the best sitting arrangement for your audience to avoid other people having barriers that block their view of the stage.
Although overshadowed by an events architects and designers, structural engineers are the critical component to an event to ensure events happen by providing safety and pragmatic solutions so that your guests can witness a spectacular show without any problems to maximize enjoyment.