HISTORIC FIRE RECREATION
IIDA Judges Special Citation
A great fire destroyed almost half of the city of Milwaukee in the late 1800’s, yet had been virtually forgotten due to the great Chicago and Peshtigo fires of that same era. To commemorate this historic event that led to the area’s architectural origin, an annual event was produced for several years to dramatize the start of the fire.
For this visualization, theatrical lighting techniques were used to create flame, heat, and smoke effects in each window of a six-story building. In front of a crowd of thousands, the explosion that started the fire was recreated with simulated fire progressing through the entire building using realistic flickering and choreographed victims and firefighters. In later years the “fire” was expanded along two city blocks.
This lighting-based event demonstrated the dramatic potential for light upon architecture. The production initially fooled the local fire department into calling in a second and third alarm, and showcased the architectural significance of Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.