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Case Study:



"But, can we really do this in 18 hours?"

I first met 'Ichiro, Sacred Beings' on Playa, at Burning Man in 2018, the work of visionary artist, Marianela Fuentes. It is "a replica of the Velafrons Coahuilensis covered in multi-colored beads in the style of the Huichol" people of northern Mexico. 


After traveling to Washington DC for a festival on the National Mall, Ichiro needed to be moved to the rooftop of Eaton Workshop, a hotel on K Street. I was volunteering with the transport team when we learned the steel structural base could not physically get to the roof, unless we could get a permit. On Sunday night. The artist had a flight the next afternoon.


I have an idea. And friends. I'll figure something out.


One shot. Or this becomes a different thing.

What I didn’t tell Marianela, yet, was that my idea was to cut her custom built structural steel base in half, which would fit into Eaton’s freight elevator, with about 1.5” to spare. She was no stranger to considered engineering solutions. She was understandably protective of Ichiro.


I wanted to validate my idea, and make sure I could actually get the talent, tools and materials on site by the next morning. By 2:00am I had overlaid photos I had taken with my modification ideas and sent them out to my networks. Only the freaks would be up. They were.

"I understand, Marianela. And, this won't compromise structural integrity. But it does mean you can move it anywhere far more easily. Where is Ichiro going next?"


20 minutes to spare. And new possibilities.


My friends showed up, made the cuts and drill holes. Sequence and material markings would hopefully make it easier for whoever put Ichiro together next. The Eaton made sure we had hot food and drinks on this particularly frigid November morning.

Once everything was on the roof, we documented, step by step, Ichiro’s build so Marianela could more easily task teams in the future. She made her flight with 20 minutes to spare. Before she left she told us there was a good chance Ichiro was headed to the Bay Area next for a very special engagement.

We made plans for her return to officially debut Ichiro to DC. It was a lively party and the coverage was great.


The Civil Engineering Compliance of Delight


Next year Marianela excitedly told us Ichiro was headed to the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose, CA. She asked if I would help her move it. It would be "just like the last time, except" we had to work with a civil engineering company to make sure Ichiro complied with state earthquake and wind shear structural codes.


My role was to be her, and Ichiro's, navigator, translator and advocate through these requirements. What this also meant was 1) confirming measurements of all internal structural elements, 2) a 2,800 lb. steel plate to be spot welded to Ichiro's base in CA, 3) custom welding modifications and a portable, custom built base cover to be done before we left DC, because 4) the museum could only give us 2 days to build on site.

Dialing it all into a single time and space.

Since we would not have time at the museum, we had to front load and complete as much as possible in DC. The harder part was finding reliable, time certain talent and compliant material deliveries that would all fall in perfect sequence and place the very first time. Custom welding and woodwork solutions were designed so that no more than 2 people were required to physically move anything in case we didn't have any help.

The three day cross-country sprint was the 'relaxing' part, but Marianela and made it fun. Once there, the museum staff were amazing, we received extra help from the museum and Eaton, all the talent and vendors I lined up performed perfectly, and on time.


Everyone's crazy excited! And the kids too!


Families started showing up at the crack of dawn to see their new neighbor. The smiles and buzzing questions and coos lit up Ichiro as much as the rising sun as we applied the last of the spot paint and put away all the tools and materials. 

The Mercury News did a lovely photo essay about the installation. Ichiro spent more than a year at the Children's Discovery Museum before making a final move to Google after an extended stay.

This project will always remain one of my favorites, not just because it made so may people so happy, but that it required me to connect so many languages of creating together, that they may all say the same thing.

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