Construction &

Installation of

The Traveling Man


Brad Oldham International Inc (BOII) hired C1S Group - a full-service engineering design and construction firm - to help oversee the construction and installation of The Traveling Man. C1S Group’s Aaron Liles worked closely with Brad Oldham to develop and manage a project timeline and construction budget. When clients work with BOII, they gain the benefit of being supported by an entire team. In collaborative projects with so many moving parts, like The Traveling Man, communication, time and budget management are all equally crucial. We provided our client DART with regular updates and customized accounting in order to meet the project’s requirements, and we conducted regular meetings to keep all parties informed throughout all phases of construction and installation. 


Challenges with The Traveling Man installation included:
Size, weight & number of pieces in sculptures
Fabrication off-site and on-site
Short timeline & limited resources
Texas heat & safety protocol


The challenge involved more than merely standing two 24-foot-tall legs on top of the 32-foot-deep piers and welding them to the 4-foot-wide hip bones; the larger challenge was identifying exactly where The Traveling Man would stand. The correct angle and distance between the feet was critical to meeting the engineering specifications. Off-site, the legs and hips had been stood upright as the bones were being built. At that time, the fabrication team had made a template of the bottoms of his feet in correct position. The feet needed to slip precisely over the bolts that had been cast into the concrete piers. The template was made out of steel pipe and plate. At the site, the team located and poured the piers based on the measurements they had made of his foot placement back when he was standing up off site. Sounds easy? Basically, it was a low-tech solution to a complicated installation issue. This had to be a one-shot process due to the cost and volatility of the materials involved (i.e., cement sets) and the tight project timeline. The installation plan included cranes and manpower to handle and finesse the legs and the hips into place. The back leg set in place in less than two hours. The front leg, however, took another ten hours to successfully secure. Two cranes, a front loader and a four-man team worked with the large steel bones to ultimately tighten the bolts and lock the legs in place. The challenge for this phase of the installation was that, once the process started, there was no stopping point until the legs and hips were successfully installed. With leg and hip bones in place, the rest of the installation unfolded without any variance from the plan. 


Although, the BOII team had set up a fabrication site expressly for the purpose of building of The Traveling Man’s bones in Como, Texas, the stainless steel skin had to be created in Brad Oldham’s Dallas studio as well as several other shops nearby. It was a challenge to manage the number of pieces and the physical distance between them before the materials arrived on site. And even after they had been delivered to the installation sites, the fabrication continued.


In planning for the installation of the stainless steel skin, the team conceptualized the pieces by using sewing thimbles. There needed to be a top-over-bottom overlap so that water would be unable to run inside the piece. Half of the rivet holes in the pieces of skin were laser-cut off site to save time and money. The other half of the rivet holes had to be hand-drilled on site to enable the pieces to fit more exactly with those pieces that were already in place. In short, a combination of machine and artisan work on each stainless steel piece allowed enough flexibility to create a custom, tight fit. 


After the first eight sections of skin had been installed, a rhythm was developed and the system progressed at a rapid rate. What was totally amazing was that just a few men handled the installation of almost all of the skin. One of the masterminds behind the skin installation was Lance Mayfield of LM Fabrication. Mayfield designed this process in order to be able to complete as much work off-site in his shop while allowing for on-site, installation flexibility. 


The Traveling Man was installed in July and August, two of the hottest months of the year. The small, highly skilled crew worked on a tight schedule. While the skin was cut and bent off-site, a tremendous amount of work was performed on-site to finalize the shape of each piece.


While the installation of The Traveling Man was a very unusual construction project, it followed all DART rail line safety and protocol. The BOII team ensured a high level of safety planning and conducted a daily safety monitoring program. In fact, this sculpture was built to the same safety protocols that are followed by rail line construction projects. 


The stainless steel birds were cast and polished to a mirror finish – ready to go before they reached the installation sites. The installation of the birds in each of the three sites was expected to be straightforward. The finished bird sculptures were bolted in place onto concrete/rebar bases. The 15,000-pound concrete artifact salvaged from the bridge that had been torn down to make way for the DART rail line was incorporated into The Traveling Man–Waiting on a Train. Each site was finished out with hand-stained concrete and Cherokee rock. 


If sculpture is a labor of love, then the actual design, construction and installation of artwork on this scale requires a gargantuan heart. The BOII team completed The Traveling Man installation on time and on budget, thanks to project team members, and especially Aaron Liles of C1S Group, Lance Mayfield of LM Fabrication and Keith Ashmore of Warhogg Customs. 




©Brad Oldham 2009