Preparations for Pittsburgh G20 Summit Took Only Two Months

By Michael O'Connell October 12, 2009, 9:00 AM EDT

The plenary room

Photo: Courtesy of Hargrove Inc.

Despite the vast amounts of international attention the G20 summit attracts during its two-day run, production details for the event actually come together on fairly short notice. When the meeting of world leaders from Argentina to the United Kingdom convened in Pittsburgh on September 24 and 25, only two months had passed since event producers Hargrove Inc. won the business.

“A request for bid from the State Department and the White House came to us in early July,” said Hargrove C.E.O. Tim McGill. “And part of the bid process in the meetings wasn't just to provide quotes and create the overall aesthetic and design, but to pitch how the meetings would actually flow.”

Hargrove learned it had edged out competitors in late July, leaving just two months until attendees, media, protestors, and an almost unimaginable number of security professionals descended on Pittsburgh. On its to-do list: design and produce more than 100,000 square feet of graphic print and signage, building a circular table that seated 55 global leaders, and turning 300,000 square feet of convention center space into a dynamic venue that contained multiple meeting rooms, stages, and lounge areas.

Most of the work actually ended up getting done in Hargrove's Maryland headquarters, but soon after security arrived in Pittsburgh over Labor Day weekend, the company also sent a 23-person management team to oversee the labor force of 350.

“We do the inauguration every four years,” said McGill. “We just finished the one for Obama, and we thought that required extensive planning, but it was every bit as demanding in Pittsburgh. By scope and scale, it's one of the largest things we've ever done.”

Despite the size of the endeavor, McGill says everything ran quite smoothly. In fact, Hargrove was ready to open the facility 18 hours before it needed to—something uncommon with events of that size. McGill credits the timeliness to good working relationships with co-producer Showcall, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and Pittsburgh. “The city of Pittsburgh embraced this like nothing we've ever seen before,” he said. “It's probably the biggest event they've hosted yet.”

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