Theatre Professor Designs Showcase for Major National Convention

Terrence McClellan, Professor in the School of Theatre and Dance, was selected to design the 22,000 square foot “Broadband Nation” showcase exhibit which served as the centerpiece of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) Cable Show ’09 event in early April at the Washington D.C. Convention Center.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke opened the exhibit which was attended by over 12,000 including 100 members of Congress and more than 300 federal officials and Congressional staffers. The design project, which spanned over 6 months, produced a Main Street America-themed technology showcase highlighting the services, technology and benefits associated with cable’s broadband telecommunications platform. Over 35 companies were ultimately integrated into the exhibit including Cisco Systems, C-SPAN, Disney Enterprises, Cerner Corporation, Dolby Laboratories, Intel Corporation, Motorola, Sony Electronics and CNN Student News.

The design was conceived as a streetscape of contemporary America that moved from urban to suburban to rural areas along a central road. Along the exterior road, complete with grass, trees, fire hydrants and a WiMax outfitted car, eight separate buildings—interiors and exteriors-- were constructed and decorated to showcase real-life depictions of how cable high speed networks are improving education, medicine, communications and more in homes, schools and businesses. They included an urban loft living space, cable network operations center, visitors center, coffee shop, medical clinic, suburban home, entertainment complex with video game room and movie theatre and a rural middle school. As visitors walked down the road, they moved from an urban entryway environment towards a dirt road and corn field. Each building contained completely finished interior rooms with specific technology provided by cable partner companies.

Professor McClellan created a series of 3-dimensional computer renderings and animations in order to work through the initial design phase of the project. He then led a team of designers including set designers, graphic designers, interior designers and lighting designers in both preproduction and the on-site installation. He supervised and coordinated the construction and fabrication of the scenery which utilized conventional theatrical scenic construction along with digital printing techniques on a variety of materials including the centerpiece road surface, backdrop and building exteriors. One of many challenges was incorporating solutions within the physical design to accommodate the state-of-the-art technology necessary for the many companies to successfully integrate their demonstrations. The scenery, furnishings, lighting and technology integration was set up completely in the Washington D.C. Convention Center in a remarkable five days.

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