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This Chicago Set Designer Is Behind Some Of Coolest Backdrops In The World

By Ariel Cheung | September 12, 2017 5:30am
 Scenic Studios, creators of some of Chicago's best-known sets, has relocated to Pilsen.
Scenic Studios Moves Warehouse To Pilsen
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CHICAGO — They designed the stage in Grant Park where Barack Obama celebrated his first presidential victory and the stage the Cubs used when they won their first championship in 108 years.

They dressed dinosaurs and lion statues in giant Chicago sports jerseys and helmets.

But after relocating to a massive new warehouse-style headquarters in Pilsen, Chicago Scenic Studios can start to dream even bigger.

Chicago Scenic Studios, which calls itself the "granddaddy" of Chicago's scenic construction scene, recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and completed its move from Goose Island to a new, 165,000-square-foot building at 955 W. Cermak Road.

Since the company's heyday designing sets for Oprah Winfrey's talk show (including the 2011 series finale), work from Chicago Scenic Studios has been popping up around Chicago for years.

Recently, the stage for the Chicago Cubs World Championship rally in November required coordinating a cross-continental delivery of 24 confetti cannons with just days to plan — no small feat.

The Chicago Cubs World Series championship rally took place on a set from Chicago Scenic Studios. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

The company is behind exhibits at the Shedd Aquarium and the Museum of Science and Industry and designed the Chicago Bulls locker room. its designers have dressed the Field Museum brachiosaurus and Art Institute lion statues with giant custom jerseys during the playoff runs for the Cubs and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago Scenic Studios dressed these Chicago icons outside the Field Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago to celebrate playoff runs for the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks. [Provide/Chicago Scenic Studios]

Founder Bob Doepel started the company in 1978 and still works daily with his flat-coated retriever Verdi at his side. And Doepel has deep roots in Chicago: His great-grandfather founded the company that built Navy Pier.

"Truly setting the stage, whether for a permanent fixture, a traveling production or a world-class event, is and always has been my passion," Doepel said. "We try to create not just a set, but an experience."

Work from Chicago Scenic Studios can be found in Philadelphia, New York City and Las Vegas, and the company said it has become a training hub for stage designers over its 40 years in business.

Its new hub will employ 65 people across multiple design areas and provide more space to expand its offerings.

Check out more past work from Pilsen's newest business below.

Windy City Live is filmed on a set designed by Chicago Scenic Studios, which recently moved to Pilsen. [Provided/Chicago Scenic Studios]

Chicago Scenic Studios designed this exhibit of football helmets for the NFL Draft in Chicago. [Provided/Chicago Scenic Studios]

A set design in New York City's Central Park is among the set designs from Chicago Scenic Studios, which just opened a massive new warehouse in Pilsen. [Provided/Chicago Scenic Studios]

The Big Ten Network studio is among the set designs from Chicago Scenic Studios. [Provided/Chicago Scenic Studios]

The Shedd Aquarium submarine exhibit is among designs from Chicago Scenic Studios. [Provided/Chicago Scenic Studios]