Lads of Liberty: Trip Kyle, Production Manager at ESI Design
Posted March 9, 2020
In May 2019, the new Statue of Liberty Museum opened on Liberty Island with experience and exhibits by ESI Design. The new museum is part of a $100 million Liberty Island-wide beautification effort that is funded by our clients, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.
To celebrate we’re sharing the stories of some of the talented people who have worked for over five years to bring this world-class museum from concept to completion.
In this edition, you’ll hear from Trip Kyle, a Production Manager at ESI Design, who worked on the experience and exhibit design for the museum. Trip supervised the exhibit production coordination with project partners to ensure that the museum was completed on schedule.
Name: Trip Kyle
Job Title: Trip Kyle, ESI Design
Years of Experience: 30 years
Languages Spoken: English, French
Education: B.A. Swarthmore College, NYS Teaching Certification
What was your first encounter with the Statue of Liberty?
Trip Kyle, Production Manager: My mom took me to the Statue of Liberty when I was 7. I remember walking up the steps, probably to the crown, maybe the torch, and seeing the view of New York Harbor. It may have been my very first breathtaking experience!
What was your role on the project? What did that mean for you day-to-day?
TK: I was hired as a second production manager by ESI Design to specifically supervise the experience and exhibit production coordination with the primary stakeholders — the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. and the National Park Service — and coordinate the on-site installation across the project team. I also managed a weekly project team call and represented ESI Design at the weekly site coordination meeting.
What was unique to my work was developing collaborative work plans that enabled the many project partners involved to move their scope forward and collectively complete the Museum on schedule. I was familiar with the client team after working on the design of the National Immigration Museum on Ellis Island, where we got along famously.
There were many lovely moments, such as our site meetings next to the new torch location, looking at the amazing view of the harbor and the NYC skyline. Also, walking from Liberty State Park to take the boat to Liberty Island at the crack of dawn was such an awe-inspiring way to start the day.
You just opened a new museum for the Statue of Liberty — how does that feel? What does that mean to you?
TK: Like with Ellis Island, the building and gift of the Statue of Liberty is an important foundation to global values of collaboration to equate lives. Being a part of the Statue of Liberty Museum to tell that story was a rich and meaningful experience, as it will be told to millions of people.
Why is having a museum dedicated to the Statue of Liberty important?
TK: Having a museum dedicated to the Statue of Liberty is important because the story of how the Statue came to be is an historical foundation for how people need to work together to create great things. In these divisive times when individualism and isolationism are on the rise, the world should remember that we’re here to leave the world better than we found it and lift those in need.
After working on this project, has your concept of liberty evolved?
TK: Over the museum’s timeline, the National Park Service’s operations and budget were heavily scrutinized meaning that there were some compromises from ESI Design’s initial exhibit design concepts. It brought home the reality that freedom of speech cannot be taken for granted, even in the United States.
What were the steps in your journey to this iconic project?
TK: ESI Design brought me on to this project because of my experience working with them on the National Museum of Immigration at Ellis Island. I was delighted to get involved, having just finished my work on the Empire State Building visitor experience. Two top NYC spots!
Since you started your career, what’s the biggest change you have seen in the world of design?
TK: Audio, visual, sensor, AI technology is amazing and affordable. Consequently about every immersive, interactive environmental design integrates this as a core experience. There needs to be intense coordination across designers, architects, general contractor’s, producers and artists for projects to be cohesive and delivered efficiently.
What advice would you give to your younger self starting a career in design?
TK: Have a solid training in how things get built — construction, custom fabrication, AV integration, lighting, custom media and graphics. To be a good production manager for experiences and exhibits you need to be comfortable in all these conversations and environments, and be one step ahead of what is going to happen next. Buildability is also important to good design. By having this background, you realize there is a solution to every problem with time and creativity.
If you were giving a tour of the new museum, what would be your top highlight?
TK: I love the Statue of Liberty Museum’s Immersive Theater film sequence which is comprised of three separate nodes. It’s a great introduction to the museum and story of why the Statue of Liberty exists. The story is amazing — how the Statue was funded, hand-crafted, shipped, built on the island, and all as a gift from one country to another!