in the news (129)

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may 2013 | by peter reedijk | show project

Temperatures below freezing, snow up to our thighs, bone-chilling winds, and fifteen dark buildings greeted us as we rolled into the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge campus. Even though it was May, record low temperatures had kept the lovely site locked in a winter deep freeze. With a team of four, we were prepared for the worst, but when it hits you in the face, you wonder if maybe you should have packed one more layer of clothing.

Our next ten days would be spent installing 665 room signs, 21 building signs, 120 pedestrian directionals, and map kiosks. We would tread across the frozen landscape, peel layers of clothing as the sun warmed the air, and eat... and eat (there's something about cold weather that gives you a voracious appetite).

Installation in the bitter cold has its own challenges. Because most adhesives need room-temperature conditions to cure - and conditions at our installation sites were far from room-temperature - we had to redesign our installation method on the fly. We began by conducting a series of "cure" tests. The first were done in optimal conditions, with tools, materials, and adhesives at at least 60 degrees for eight hours before subjecting them to the outdoors. Next we tested them in less than desirable (but more realistic) conditions: materials and adhesives placed outside for six hours and then adhered and "cured" in below-freezing temperatures for another 24 hours.

The results: our caulk-based construction adhesives (which turned into solid cylindrical bricks when left outside) needed indoor temperatures to cure successfully. But specialty acrylic adhesive tapes cured outdoors, even in freezing temperatures - a pleasant surprise, and a good solution to a big challenge.

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april 2013 | by melissa boettcher

Working with our client at Franklin Creek Natural Area in Illinois, I was entranced by his vivid descriptions of his experiences walking the trail at different seasons. "Coyotes work the edges of habitats, I have seen them several times leaping out of the tall trees onto the trail for a snack." Each exhibit draws your attention to something along the path. We worked with the client to design fourteen trail stops, and in each one, the text is written in the first person as if you have a personal guide. These exhibits followed an interpretive plan developed by John Veverka.

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april 2013 | by peter reedijk | show project

The Paiute at Mount Charleston have been coming to this site before recorded time, and they continuing to do so. This mountain provides shelter, food, medicine and a place to reenergize. As you travel up into the mountains, the temperature and moisture change and this creates varying environments for different plant and animal communities. In a relatively short distance going uphill there is tremendous variety.

The Paiute's history is intricately woven into this landscape. To help make visitors aware of this relationship, new exhibits will celebrate the Paiute's presence on the land with a series of full size steel silhouettes. The steel sculptures are designed from historic and contemporary photos of local tribe members. After artwork is generated, full scale mockups are created and tested in the field. Each silhouette is designed with layers providing a three-dimensional affect. Fabrication involves cutting each layer out of a steel plate and attaching them with in a way that is reminiscent of old fashioned sewing patterns.

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march 2013 | by alex ogle | show project

I can finally think back on the recent, final-final, installation of fourteen small plaques at the Chambers Covered Bridge and smile at all of the trouble they caused.

It was one of those moments when we experience the reciprocal relationship between what appears to be a perfect plan and the surprising difficulty of execution. The interpretive plaques at the Chamber's Bridge installation are a stellar example demonstrating this very relationship.

Sea Reach successfully produced five exhibits with handcrafted, beautifully painted wood headers, a life-size aluminum tube train skeleton embedded between the bridge trusses and the siding, and a train play structure. All required incredible levels of detail, fabrication excellence, and installation expertise. All went according to plan.

But the simplest aspect of the job completely derailed (pardon the pun). Fourteen small plaques screwed into wood? Ughhh! We ended up with six different sets of plaques - we experienced wandering holes, delamination, expansion and contraction, colors not matching, too much wood putty, frustration, and exasperation!

We began producing twice the number of signs needed - for each new installation. Finally a winner on the fourth try!

Sigh... In the end, we all agree that we are happier with the resulting final product and we gained valuable knowledge to take to the next project. We look at each other and ask, "Wouldn't it be nice NOT to learn so much on a project?"

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february 2013 | by linda repplinger | show project

We spread out through the snowy forest, walking from one exposed patch of ground to another. Hunters and gatherers.

"You've got to see this over here!" Nancy calls. "Hold that spot!" Susan shouts back as she gathers one more handful of pinecones into her box before making her way over to Nancy. As we wander, searching for interesting patterns and colors, we see the ordinary with new eyes - orange colored puzzle pieces from ponderosa pine bark, feathery mountain mahogany seeds, silver scaled pinyon pine branches, dark loamy piles of decaying fir needles. As artists selecting paints in a palette, we fill our boxes with these treasures. We are preparing to use these materials to create artwork from nature in an exhibit for the Spring Mountains outside Las Vegas.

Back at Sea Reach, the staff gathers together to play. We hope to inspire others to let go of modern entertainment for a while and become kids playing with twigs and pinecones!

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february 2013 | by alex ogle | show project

For months, our designers have been finessing the layouts for eighty-five (85) exhibit panels. These six-foot-long exhibits will be inlaid into concrete picnic tables in the newly renovated Cathedral Rock Picnic Area in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. When the project finally reaches print pre-press (my area), the general manager and I sit down to review the timeline. I can feel my blood pressure rise. Seemingly, no one was thinking about how long it would take to get 85 exhibits through production. We put the calendar in front of us: how much time do we need to run final color tests, prepare files for printing, print, proof prints, embed prints, QC embedments, tally and organize, package for shipping, ship, receive and install - as we forecast the tasks and we quickly realize, we do not have enough time to meet our installation date. Houston, we have a problem.

We gather the business together and re-examine our process. Each person identifies a more efficient way to perform a task. All together, we feel we can improve the timeline by a couple of weeks - giving us some wiggle room and ensuring that we can meet our deadline.

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february 2013 | by nicole adsit

Nestled along Highway 12 in the Dixie National Forest, Utah, Red Canyon is exactly that: red!. Huge red rock formations thrust from the ground creating a vibrant and dynamic landscape. Within Red Canyon visitors can mountain bike gravel trails, navigate the canyons on horseback, speed past scenery on OHVs, hike the ridges on foot, or seek solitude in a dispersed campsite. Sea Reach is creating a set of exhibits at the Red Canyon Visitor Center to help users navigate the area specific to the recreation of their choice.

With all the recreation available to visitors it was necessary for us to establish a visual hierarchy within each exhibit. Visual hierarchy refers to the organization of information through color, font size, and composition. We found it very important to incorporate a structured composition on each exhibit so that visitors would know where to find pertinent information, such as map, trail description and elevation graphs. A project like this is beyond exhibit design, it is Information Architecture.

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february 2013 | by heather julius | show project

I was happy to hear of Obama's pick for the new Secretary of the Interior: Sally Jewell, the current CEO of REI and former President and Founding Board Member of Seattle-area conservation group, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. At the mention of Ms. Jewell's connection to Mountains to Sound, I recalled the important role that volunteers from this organization played in the restoration work at Lake Sammamish, where we are working on a project for Washington State Parks.

We are designing beautiful exhibits that will be installed along the new boardwalk at the mouth of Issaquah Creek. Visitors to Lake Sammamish State Park will learn about the restoration efforts of the 1,251 volunteers who contributed nearly 5,000 hours to restore areas along the lakeshore and the banks of Issaquah Creek. I am impressed by the leadership, vision and generous spirit of the Mountains to Sound Greenway, and hence an admiration for our new Secretary of the Interior.

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february 2013 | by melissa boettcher | show project

Sea Reach is rounding a corner to completion on the final phase of the new comprehensive wayfinding plan for Hoyt Arboretum. The next phase is to update the existing collections exhibits and add ten more.

When I was given this assignment, I noticed that the old exhibits had a series of undefined "blobs" to demonstrate tree shape and size. I made it my mission to create better blobs with a well-defined shape and structure for each tree family. After a thorough search of the Arboretum's online photo collection - I looked closely at the architecture of each tree. I traced the trunk and branches and removed aberrant or abnormal branches to establish the "typical" shape for each tree type. After the "skeleton" of the trunk and branches is drawn, then a basic, amorphous shape or "blob" is applied to give the tree shape. These help a visitor to identify tree types within a family with just a glance at their basic profile. The exhibits feature up to 6 different shapes and sizes within a specific tree family.

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february 2013 | by susan jurasz

There are no roads into Cordova, Alaska. The airport, typical of many of the airports in Alaska, is small and unassuming. This is the gateway into one of the most specular places in the world: Prince Williams Sound, the Chugach National Forest, and the Copper River Delta. The Copper River Delta extends for 700,000 acres (2,800 km2) and is considered the largest contiguous wetlands along the Pacific coast of North America. The delta is used annually by millions of birds, including the world's entire population of western sandpipers; the largest nesting population of trumpeter swans and the only known nesting site for the dusky Canada goose. Over 2 million salmon spawn here each year. And as if that is not enough: two glaciers, the Miles and Child's glaciers calve directly into the river.

Sea Reach is working with Alaska Airlines and the US Forest Service to design, fabricate and install a mural that wraps the interior walls of the Cordova Airport. The mural reflects roughly 100 miles of coastline with fishing boats, past the mountain ranges and glaciers to the Copper River Delta. It highlights the stunning scenery that surrounds Cordova, including the Chugach National Forest and the Copper River Delta.

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