Sports Illustrated Re-Creates City Rooftop for Swimsuit Issue

Inspired by 7 World Trade Center's skyline views, Sports Illustrated built an urban rooftop setting for its annual swimsuit issue party.

By Meryl Rothstein February 14, 2008, 12:46 PM EST

Reminiscent of neon rooftop signs, the magazine's logo filled one side of the room at 7 World Trade Center.

Photo: Joe Fornabaio for BizBash

Sports Illustrated's "Club SI" Swimsuit Issue Launch Party
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Celebrating swimsuits in the middle of February may work well for Sports Illustrated, but it presented some thematic challenges for Tuesday night's launch party for the magazine's iconic swimsuit issue. “We didn't want to do the obvious thing and make it tropical,” said Ashley Morris, production coordinator for MKG Productions, which produced the party under the direction of Sports Illustrated's executive director of event marketing and athlete relations Christine Rosa and events marketing manager Kristen Leoce. So instead the team embraced the New York locale, the 52nd floor of 7 World Trade Center, echoing the skyscraper space's 360-degree views (somewhat marred by the night's snowstorm) and creating a rooftop feel for the event.

Beneath the exposed pipes and air ducts in the raw space were faux-brick structures and smoking silver chimneys, which represented the typical industrial structures found on New York City roofs. The props conveniently doubled as a place to rest drinks; low black couches on either side provided seating. Due to the size and weight of the stage and other large props, set-up was a multi-day operation, so SI rented out the space for five days, allowing MKG to move in the biggest props on Saturday, when the office tower was less busy.

According to MKG, the decor concept was also meant to simulate the sensation of being on top of the world—a literal take on the way the 750 guests (mostly male staffers from the magazine and advertisers) were supposed to feel being surrounded by such attractive women.

In fact, the event's true theme was ogling the models themselves. Lines of middle-aged men formed at a green screen where the swimsuit models posed for mock SI covers, mementos that attendees could take home. Some models mingled in the main party space, though most were in the V.I.P. room—a section blocked off by N.Y.P.D.-style barricades—alongside sports stars Andy Roddick and Jeff Gordon. Throughout the event, screens around the venue played video footage from the shoots, interspersed with logos of the issue's sponsors, Budweiser and Dodge.

“We wanted the girls to feel accessible, so guests feel that they're part of our swimsuit franchise rather than that they're just looking at the issue,” Leoce said.

The presentation of the models began around 9.30 p.m., with a video starring Will Ferrell and Heidi Klum, who have a spread of their own in the magazine. The stage continued the urban-rooftop motif with a faux-brick wall as the backdrop; models emerged from behind backlit screens built into the wall. Introduced by a sports announcer, the women appeared—grouped by the location of their shoot and wearing dresses, not bikinis—to cheers and camera flashes from the crowd.

Correction: This story has been updated to credit the creator of the DJ booth featured at the party.

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