Exhibit City News recently interviewed three trusted sources in the extrusion industry to get a comprehensive look at the double deck exhibit industry.
Why are aluminum extrusions the perfect building material for double deck systems?
Jim Shelman, general manager of rentals, Classic Exhibits: Engineered aluminum extrusions are ideal for adding structural components; in addition, it is lightweight, packs efficiently and offers an appealing, contemporary look.
Chris Lake, COO, Highmark: Versatility, strength, and weight make aluminum extrusions ideal for the double deck system. By using the Highmark custom beam, column and hand rail extrusions, exhibitors can design and accessorize a multi-story double deck from Highmark’s current rental or new inventory.
How has demand for double deck systems been over the last year?
Tim Searle, president, Searle Exhibit Technologies: SET has experienced a dramatic increase in the demand for double decks over the past year for both new builds and rentals. For instance, summer is traditionally the slowest time for the exhibit industry, but the past few weeks, we have experienced multiple double deck quote requests most days, with a majority of them needed for summer tradeshows.
Shelman: We’ve seen a substantial increase in double deck rental inquiries and a 25 percent increase in booked rentals. Some of that has to do with the economy improving, but we’ve also benefited from having one deck permanently warehoused in Las Vegas. Often, that’s a major reason the client decides to go with a deck at a Las Vegas event: no shipping.
What was the most unique way that you have seen a client used the space provided by a double deck system?
Lake: Highmark ExpoDeck structures were recently used as professional dance platforms and DJ booths during a large football event party.
Shelman: We have a client that uses a large circular sign structure with a tension fabric graphic that surrounds the entire deck. With this feature, it actually looks like a round deck, but at the cost of a more traditional square deck.
What are the major challenges that come with designing and producing a double deck system?
Searle: The challenges experienced when designing and producing double deck systems include meeting code requirements, minimizing weight without compromising strength, minimizing set-up times and providing much larger free spans and taller design structures. The stiffer seismic requirements in both IBC and local codes resulted in our invention of the patent-pending j-bolt deck-to-beam connection. Also, the introduction of our patent-pending QuickSET beam-to-column technologies in SETdecks has significantly improved set-up times over other double deck systems while still meeting these more stringent code requirements. SETdecks also solves the challenge of larger free spans and taller structures through its ability to meet virtually any ambitious deck design. SET has already provided larger free spans on projects with up to 31 feet between columns, and SETdecks has the capability for even larger expanses.
Lake: Designing a double deck system is fivefold; strength and safety first and foremost, followed by versatility, weight reduction and quick setup time all are factors in creating a truly compliant, re-configurable system that can be deployed in half the build time of traditional steel double decks.
Simply understanding the grid and beam spans will help designers tailor the right multi-story system to their client’s needs.
What trends are you seeing with the use of double deck systems?
Shelman: Double decks offer private meeting space and a unique way to make a big splash on the show floor. The upper level is often used for a relaxing lounge area. Deciding to use a double-deck is similar to switching from an inline booth to an island exhibit. A double deck puts the client in another league on the show floor. It becomes a destination for exhibit attendees rather than simply another booth.
Searle: The most frequent trend we see in the use of double decks is clients requesting larger free spans between columns and taller design structures. For instance, we are currently working on a large deck for a national sporting event that requires a 31-foot free span.