Foam Eggs and Ham

Seuss Landing at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure is another perfect example of using plastic materials to achieve extraordinary aesthetics.

Located in Orlando, Florida, this amusement park within an amusement park is a 4-ha (10-acre) island incorporating Green Eggs and Ham Café, Hop on Pop Ice Cream Shop, and several other attractions based on the fictional works of Theodor Geisel—better known as Dr. Seuss. Dubbed the “Land of No Right Angles,” conventional construction methods were simply out of the question.

The design team was challenged to recreate the characters and environment to draw in hordes of tourists, while respecting the integrity of the style made famous by Geisel. Tampa, Florida–based Keenan, Hopkins, Schmidt & Stowell Contractors (KHS&S) were charged with making the two-dimensional figures come alive. To achieve the unique cartoon effects, employees had to hand-sculpt more than 10,684 m2 (115,000 sf) of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam to be applied over steel framing. In some places, the EPS was up to 609.6-mm (24-in) thick.

KHS&S coordinated with manufacturers to create and apply a specially formulated exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS) to meet code requirements, while allowing more on-site foam shaping. The design team immortalized the Cat in the Hat with a 9.5m (31ft) tall version of his trademark red and white head wear.

KHS&S took three weeks to apply the EPS, and then spent another two weeks perfecting and carving the image. Other highlights of the project included seamless single forms with straight or plumb substrates a rarity.

The logistics required scaffolding of structures with few or no straight surfaces, while the newly developed EIFS application called for extensive training and supervision for quality control. The contractor had to install and coordinate the application of multiple layers of materials to create the “animated” effect, while maintaining durability.