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Client Har-Con Mechanical Contractors

Location Houston, USA

Sectors Contracting

The challenge

Convert warehouse into climate-controlled art studio 

When the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), brought internationally-renowned Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang to town, the artist needed a vast indoor space to complete his commissioned piece. For Guo-Qiang is an artist like no other – he creates his immense artworks by igniting gunpowder.

MFAH found a vacant 25,000 square foot warehouse, and set about converting it into the artist’s studio. Given the delicate materials used – and the fact that hundreds of volunteers and spectators would be watching the artist at work – the climate and air quality inside the warehouse needed to be just right. MFAH’s official contractors, Har-Con Mechanical Contractors, reached out to us for assistance.


Project fact file

25,000 sq ft

Warehouse space

50-55 %

Humidity within warehouse

68-76°F (20-24°C)

Temperature within warehouse

162 x 10 ft

Size of artwork

The solution

Right balance of cooling and airflow 

It took just weeks for us to prepare the warehouse for the artist’s arrival. There were two main considerations. The first? Keep the humidity to a minimum. In Houston, humidity averages 78 per cent and the delicate rice paper used by the artist would have wilted in this damp air. The second? Carefully circulate the climate-controlled air to prevent the slightest breeze on the artwork.

To make sure we met the brief, we used a hygrometer to test and control humidity and an anemometer to test and control wind speed. All climate control equipment was set up outside, with air pumped in using flexible ductwork.


the aggreko difference

We know our art, which helps customers concentrate on theirs.

The impact

Artwork explodes with a bang 

Cai Guo-Qiang created his artwork without having to worry about any adverse effects of airflow or humidity on his delicate materials. And the many spectators at the final explosion could watch the piece go up in smoke without having to worry about breathing in fumes or emissions from the gunpowder.

It was a remarkable event. And now, Guo-Qiang’s artwork – one of his largest ever at 162 feet long and 10 feet high – is displayed along the walls of MFAH’s Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Arts of China Gallery for all to enjoy.


“Without the right temperature and humidity levels, the artist’s materials could have been compromised. We are proud to have teamed up with Aggreko to help create a successful event.”

Dicky Newberry President ,
Har-Con Mechanical Contractors

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