Storefront for Art and Architecture Benefit Takes Flight With WorldStage

Storefront for Art and Architecture’s annual Spring Benefit took place this year in the landmark TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport, originally designed by Eero Saarinen. WorldStage provided the lighting, sound and video technology for the gala evening, the last public event held at the landmark terminal before its redevelopment as a luxury hotel.

Storefront for Art and Architecture is an organization that explores the forces shaping the built environment today. With the theme “Beyond Borders,” its Spring Benefit reflected upon a growing collective consciousness about spaces of difference and the desire to transcend them. The evening honored architect Teddy Cruz and architectural photographer and agency Ezra Stoller/ESTO/Erica Stoller. It featured an auction, live music and dancing, a series of events and performances by artists, and a number of installations.


Once again WorldStage donated its time, creativity, equipment and labor for the Spring Benefit. WorldStage has supported previous Storefront galas at Manhattan’s Temple Court and 432 Park Avenue, the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere. This year’s event was housed in the mid-century modern TWA terminal designed by Eero Saarinen to represent a bird in flight. It opened to the public in 1962 and has been out of use since 2001.

“The TWA Flight Center is such a beautiful building, our goal was to let the space itself be the star,” says WorldStage design director Shelly Sabel. “We always get to play in amazing places with Storefront. This year it was exciting to see the iconic terminal transformed into a spaceship disco party as the evening progressed!”

The event also showcased some innovations from WorldStage San Francisco’s Inventions Group, including Blackbird 80 by DAL, an 80-inch transparent HD display, which greeted guests as they arrived. In a riff on modern travel, WorldStage used graphic content from Pentagram and the Blackbird 80 to create a faux airport scanning experience. As guests assumed the position inside a mock body scanner, a video loop of the “critical scanning process” revealed the guest to be one of a number of architecture “scalies” figures ranging from generic artists and travelers to the Venus de Milo, The Discus Thrower and The Thinker. Guests were admitted to the gala after their Storefront “password” was identified.

“WorldStage feels that it is a very important to support and celebrate the architectural community,” adds WorldStage vice president, director of lighting Terry Jackson. “We not only get the opportunity to collaborate with fantastically talented designers but also showcase our latest technology and equipment to a large group of influencers, focused on creativity and architectural problem solving.”

WorldStage provided 50 Martin MAC Aura LED washes, supplemented by six Clay Paky Sharpys, automated lights and more than 70 Astera wireless LED floor pars that added impact and flexibility throughout the space.

“As the sun went down we programmed and cued the Mac Auras to emulate the color temperature of the shifting daylight and the Flight Center’s giant fluorescent fixtures that uplight the roof,” says Sabel. “We added ETC lekos with custom Storefront gobos to brand everything from the building entrance to the awesome red carpeted terminal entry “arms” that connected the TWA terminal with the newer Terminal 5. A 36-inch mirror ball hung from the center of the bridge on the ground floor. “It was shrouded with a Storefront flag at the entrance so guests didn’t see it until they ventured into the space,” Sabel explains. “The Clay Paky Sharpy lights bouncing off the mirror ball really made it sing.”

A complement of Sharp 70-inch monitors displayed pre-produced Storefront content and the live art auction and online bidding.

A full audio package was supplied for speaker and DJ support, including a Yamaha DM1000 mixer, Meyer speakers and subs, and Shure microphones.

“The challenge this year was creating a lighting and audio design that enhanced as well as built upon the theme of this landmark Saarinen building,” adds Jackson. “Working with limited electrical means, we had to create a safe, functional, bright auction feel before shifting into a cool mod traveler party space. It’s safe to say that Shelly and team knocked the ball out of the park and sent Storefront’s Spring Benefit and the TWA building off with a grand finale!”

Storefront’s staff was beyond pleased with the design. Jinny Khanduja, the organizaton’s Director of Strategic Development and the producer of the event, says, “Over the years, Storefront has developed an incredible partnership with WorldStage for this event. This year, they truly outdid themselves. Shelly, Terry, and the entire team created nothing short of magic at the TWA Flight Center. Not even the photos could appropriately capture the sense of wonder on guests’ faces upon entering the space, or their enchantment as the night went on. There was the sensation all around that we were experiencing something exceptional that could not be recreated. WorldStage is largely responsible for that feeling.”

For WorldStage Shelly Sabel was the Director of Design, Terry Jackson was the Vice President of Lighting, Alison May was the Project Manager, Susan Nicholson was the Lighting Programmer and Tim Becker spearheaded the Blackbird 80 installation.

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