Electric Forest opens for a single week every year, catering primarily to Jam Band and Electronic music genres. The Observatory is a festival stage and environment set among the mystical Sherwood Forest within the festival grounds; the forest is hundreds of 70-foot-tall white pine trees planted in 1955. As attendees walk through the forest, they see elements of the festival that Madison House and Insomniac have cultivated over the years, including a psychedelic interactive maze, a swan fountain and even a wedding chapel.
In the forest, a clearing gives way to a set of permanent structures that make up The Observatory and stage: a huge castle-like structure, with an adjacent upper viewing deck that provides amazing views of the area. At night, the castle spires are marked by spotlights and lasers that become a beacon from afar.
Madison House Presents wanted to create an enhanced experience that would coalesce with the rest of the forest and provide a greater sense of place for The Observatory stage. Stantec reinvented The Observatory experience, which included the immediate surrounding area, viewing platforms, custom structures and overall placemaking components. The solution unfolded after establishing desired outcomes in a visioning exercise with the team. The whimsy and wonder represented in the structures that were designed and built are strikingly similar to what was sketched by hand from early design meetings, a positive testament to the success of the project from concept through implementation.
Larry Weeks (lead design director), CarloMaria Ciampoli (senior designer); Aaron Borchardt, Steven Park Chaffer, Zack Benson (designers)
Madison House Presents, Insomniac