Universal Studios Hollywood first opened its doors as the world’s largest motion picture production facility in 1915 on a 230-acre farm. Back then, it was called “Universal City Studios,” and the price of admission was just 25 cents. Today, for the price of $90-$115, visitors are transported for a day into the worlds of Jurassic Park, Despicable Me, Fast & Furious, Harry Potter, and beyond.
As the years progressed and the park grew, Giroux Glass came into play with involvement on repair jobs and expansion projects throughout Universal Studios and CityWalk. Giroux’s own 70-year history coincided with Universal’s history in a way that allowed us to service many projects including NBC Universal office buildings, parking structures, Mel’s Diner, Take 5, Starbucks, Fast & Furious, Flight of the Hippogriff (at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter), and our most recent project, the new Pedestrian Bridge.
In this post, delve into some behind-the-scenes glass and glazing action that featured in two of the projects listed above, Fast & Furious and the Pedestrian Bridge.
Fast & Furious – Supercharged
Electrosonic, a worldwide audio-visual company, reached out to us from their offices in New York to ask for our help in installing four oversized pieces of 1” laminated glass into the new attraction (opened June 2015). Each panel measured approximately 30’ by 11’ 6” and weighed 3,600 pounds. They made it safely from Beijing, China to our shop in Los Angeles and then to Hollywood, where they were installed into frames that weighed approximately 7,000 pounds. Together, the frame and glass weighed over 10,000 pounds (that’s 5 tons, or the weight of an Asian elephant)!
The frames were held together by struts and installed into a hangar about 20 feet high, and the glass was installed thereafter. Giroux assisted in installing the first frame, showing the steel workers how to maneuver the remaining three frames. The tricky part was getting the glass into the hangar since the door openings were only 12 feet tall. Our crew came up with several solutions and, after back and forth communication with the Universal safety team, decided to secure two rolling A-frames together, making one, giant rolling A-frame which worked perfectly for the situation. Once inside the building, the next challenge was positioning a spider crane so that it could successfully lift the glass high enough while not obstructing access to the remaining glass.
It was a very challenging job and our crew had eyes on them the entire time, but they managed to get it done—creatively, too. Thank you to everyone involved in this project: Jay Ramos (PM), Fred Perez, Moises Orozco, Cesar Barragan, Kelly Edwards, Christian Ruiz, Jeremy Kerr, Mike Maggio, Steven Perez, Chris Ortiz, and Sergio Rivera.
The Universal City/Studio City Station Pedestrian Bridge
Just in time for the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Pedestrian Bridge opened to provide a safer, more convenient way for Metro-riding, Universal-goers to get from the Red Line stop to the park. The intersection of Lankershim Blvd. and Universal Hollywood Dr. now features a beautifully updated plaza, fitted with escalator, stair, and elevator facilities. Giroux’s scope in this Griffith Company project was to install glass in three elevator towers, shown above.
It was a relatively simple and straightforward job for us, however, we did encounter a few snags logistically due to access complications and pausing work to make room for other trades. But challenges do make our jobs that much more interesting! Eventually, we worked our way up each of the three elevator shafts using scaffolding, then we brought in our boom lift, and after about two months of (noncontinuous) work, glass installation was nearly complete. Just hours before our April 7th, 6:30 AM deadline on Harry Potter Grand Opening Day, a glass break threatened to delay completion. Glasswerks worked magic to fabricate a replacement laminated glass unit for us, and had it ready, straight out of the autoclave, for our driver to pick it up by 9 PM the night before Universal’s Grand Opening. Our amazing crew had the glass set by midnight.
Giroux Glass Project Manager, Andy Gull, said, “again, this demonstrates the partnership between customer and vendor, who work hand-in-hand, to deliver professional and customer-oriented service. Thank you Glasswerks; you are a special organization.”
Thank you to all those involved in this project: Andy Gull (PM), Abdul Aziz Zoua (PM), George Dominguez (Foreman), Chris Parker, Randy Sharp, Lonny Derr, Paul Blackard (Glaziers), Michelle Fainberg, and Simon Molino (CAD).