The installation of the Nebula took three weeks. Due to it’s size it had never been put together before in it’s entirety, and so part of the excitement was seeing the sculpture for the first time. Besides Mark Sabatino, the Gizmo Crew included Schuyler Robertson, Liz Judkins, Don Paul Swain and Morgan Raymond who all somehow were able to work very long hours and still keep their sense of humor. The Lead Installer was Reid Johnston, and he was the glue that held the installation together. Besides being massively competent and skilled at every tool imaginable (including 120-foot lifts), Reid kept everyone’s moral high with a combination of focus and good humor. If it wasn’t for him we’d probably still be there trying to install this thing!
All components arrived piled high on one flatbed truck from San Francisco. The truck couldn’t round the corner to where we wanted to unload and so Schuyler picked up the back of the fully loaded truck with a massive forklift and swung it around. I knew right away that we were in good hands! Since the Atrium was being renovated and there were various obstacles on the ground, the hotel built us a 6-foot tall stage 120 feet long. We forked all the components onto the stage and that’s where we spent the next few weeks.
Pro-Rig from Dallas had already installed the four hoist motors with 130-foot long chains, and so after we assembled the ring we could lift it up. Both Mark and I rode the ring to the top of the Atrium. It was a peaceful and smooth ride. Back on the ground we assembled the truss and cables, and stretched the cable net, with all the grid pulleys. All the double ring pulleys and grid pulleys had already been set to specific angles from my spreadsheet, and I was extremely relieved that they all seemed to be actually pointing in the right place.
Next we had to bring the cables from the ring to the grid. We built what Reid dubbed the Weavezebo, and placed my string weave in the middle of the sculpture. One by one we undid the strings, tied a cable on, and pulled it through the weave. When all the cables were through we dismantled the weave structure and were left with a pile of cables that looked hopelessly tangled. But we were able to tease out the cables over the course of a couple hours and then the cable weave was mostly in place. Since I never gave Dan Torop any of the estimates of the cable net sag, or displacement of pulleys, the weave model did not perfectly reflect the actual sculpture, and ended up needing a couple days of correcting. To do this we stood on ladders and used long pieces of wood to reroute cables and undo bad crosses.
Then we could haul the structure up and start adding the crystals. This went pretty quick and after a couple days we had the sculpture all the way up and ready to turn it on for the first time!