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Featured Project:
Indianapolis Eiffel Tower

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A 3D design rendering of the entire Indianapolis Eiffel Tower

The Team

The Finished Numbers

  • 4 active months from design to install

  • 6 local organizations and companies

  • 70 feet finished height (with concrete foundation)

  • 18,700 pounds

A 3D design component parts sheet for the Indianapolis Eiffel Tower
A photograph of Brian Hull's dual computer monitors during the design phase of the Indianapolis Eiffel Tower

The Design Phase

Maker Factory, JQOL Engineering & Poynter Sheet Metal

  • 6 designers and engineers

  • 7 rounds of design

  • 3 months

  • Designed for extreme manufacturing

The Fabrication Phase

  • 7 fabricators making parts

  • 1,600 individual parts

  • 9 days

  • Rapid CNC part manufacturing

RAD Fabrication & Maker Factory

Paul Miller of RAD Fabrication working on the component parts for the Indianapolis Eiffel Tower
Welders at FA Wilhelm working on the base of the Indianapolis Eiffel Tower

The Build Phase

Latinas Welding Guild, FA Wilhelm & Poynter Sheet Metal

  • Over 30 welders

  • 5 sections

  • 4 weeks

  • 18,000 pounds of steel

The Install Phase

FA Wilhelm

  • Over 15 installers

  • 5 days to install

The installation crew from FA Wilhelm for constructing the completed Indianapolis Eiffel Tower sections on the build site

The Collaboration

by Kelin Hull

The Indiana Sports Corp commissioned the Indianapolis Eiffel Tower replica as a showpiece for the Olympic Swimming Trials in June 2024. Indiana Sports Corp Vice President of Engagement Ashleigh Newbold contacted Consuelo Lockhart of the Latinas Welding Guild to propose the build. Lockhart founded the Guild as a welding school. They do not have the capability to design projects of this scale and scope in-house.  Like the original Eiffel Tower, the process would need to be collaborative. Lockhart connected with industrial designer and owner of Maker Factory, Brian Hull, who began the design.

Every element of the Eiffel Tower serves a mathematical purpose. Scaling it down meant rethinking the design and engineering without losing structural integrity or its iconic look. Hull succeeded in developing an initial workable design for the Indy Eiffel Tower. Then the project grew 20-feet in scale. He knew he needed help to problem-solve on a large scale and tight timeline.  A team of designers at Poynter and engineers at JQOL Engineering joined the collaboration.

In the design phase, each section of the tower is drawn, calculated, considered for manufacturing, assessed for aesthetics, and revised. Drawings are required for precise construction. A project of this scale would normally take a year to design. Indeed, according to the Tour Eiffel official website, the Eiffel Tower took 2 years and went through 5,300 design revisions. The Indianapolis Eiffel Tower design team did it in 4  grueling months. Opening the project up to diverse perspectives and areas of expertise sped-up the process and enhanced its accuracy and structural stability.

 

In subsequent design revisions, each connection point was carefully considered. The entire Indy Eiffel Tower had to be calculated for weight and wind resistance. Then, once a whole design was finalized, the team divided it into sections. Hull broke each section into component parts with sheets providing build instructions for the welders, like an IKEA kit. This is a key strategy for a process called extreme manufacturing, where a project manager uses design thinking and knowledge of each phase of the process to facilitate a large-scale collaboration. This enables maximum precision and innovation in short timeframes where everyone's areas of expertise and particular strengths are leveraged for success.

As the design phase progressed, the team added collaborators to facilitate communication between the design, fabrication, and build phases: Wilhelm Construction, led by Pat Kenney, and RAD Fabrication, led by Robert Daly. RAD would also take charge of fabricating the component parts. Wilhelm would handle the weld of the bottom section and the complete install at the build site. The design team finalized the drawings on the top section first. Then, Hull developed the parts sheets necessary for each section and sent the sheets to RAD for fabrication.  RAD shop manager Paul Miller and Hull worked around the clock to manufacture the roughly 1600 parts required for the build. They used rapid CNC part manufacturing to create buildable components for maximum clarity, precision, and speed for welding and installation.  

Once the metal component sections were complete, Hull transported them with their parts sheet instructions to the Latinas Welding Guild, Poynter, and Wilhelm Construction for assembly. The Guild welded the top three sections. Welding students got creative with lifting and moving the large finished sections without a crane, continuing the project theme of collaborative problem-solving.  

 

Once welded, the Indy Eiffel Tower sections went to FA Wilhelm for coating. Sherwin Williams discounted the paint. Once at the site, FA Wilhelm workers completed finishing welds and installed the 67-foot structure on top of the concrete footers. This brings the total finished height of the Indianapolis Eiffel Tower to 70 feet.

Many hands make light work is an oft-repeated phrase we often don't pause to notice. Without the many hands this project would not have succeeded. This page names companies and organizations, but does not have the names of each individual--yet. It is still an incomplete representation of the over 100 people who worked together to make the Indy Eiffel Tower. Everyone who worked on this project has a special connection, a story, and share a monumental achievement. 

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