COVID-19

Czarnowski Collective pivoted from building auto shows to designing COVID-19 field hospitals

Hospital bed booths are set up at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center which is being turned into a hospital to help fight coronavirus cases on March 27, 2020 in New York City. Gov.

Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

As the world grappled with the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the auto industry shut down. It wasn't just factories, suppliers, and dealerships that closed up shop. One by one, some of the largest automotive events in the world were cancelled.

First to fall was the Geneva International Motor Show. The New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) would be pushed back then cancelled. Monterey Car Week is off the calendar. The North American International Auto Show won't be back until 2021.

These cancellations left gaps in employment for many workers who fill their year representing automakers at events and tradespeople who put together the set ups for the shows and arrange their day-to-day operations.

North American International Auto Show The North American International Auto Show was cancelled when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contracted the space to use as a field hospital. Photo courtesy of North American International Auto Show

Czarnowski Collective assists with the setup and operations of most of those shows, and others. Like small business owners across the globe, the company's existence was facing extinction.

"The whole industry has been impacted," said Nick Simonette, Czarnowski's vice president of business transformation. "But we have a strong team and network in place to handle any current or future opportunity. With that said, we downsized by roughly 60 percent of our overall employee base."

Facing an unprecedented business environment, Czarnowski pivoted. In addition to moving to help produce filmed events that were originally meant for in-person consumption, the company worked to win the contract to build out the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City, where NYIAS was originally meant to be held in early April, as a field hospital to treat COVID-19 positive patients.

The Javits Center is home to 760,000 square feet of exhibition space. The government tasked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) with readying the facilities needed as quickly as possible.

2018 New York International Auto Show The New York International Auto Show is hosted at the Jacob K. Javits Center. Photo by Getty Images

"The US Government had disaster-relief efforts for things like fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, but was in need of help for issues related to human health and contagion mitigation," Simonette shared.

The pivot wasn't easy. "The biggest challenge was identifying and speaking with the appropriate person(s) to get the work done," said Simonette. "There were so many voices weighing in, and there was a lot of confusion."

The situation facing the world, and especially New York City, was dire. Time was of the essence, and while Czarnowski did not know the world of healthcare, they did know how to design, create, execute, and tear down large-scale exhibitions inside convention centers.

On March 16, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo requested that the USACE build at least four field hospitals in the city to treat patients effected by COVID-19. He also asked that the Navy deploy its USNS Comfort hospital ship to the city.

That week, inspection teams consisting of personnel from the New York State Office of General Services, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, the New York State Department of Health, and the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs joined with USACE to survey more than a dozen locations for the field hospitals.

By March 21, the State of New York had recommended four sites: the Javits Center, and locations at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury, and the Westchester Convention Center.

"For the COVID-19 treatment facilities, we immersed ourselves in a new medical vernacular," described Simonette. "Depending on the stage of care needed, there's acute care -- which requires negative-pressure considerations (for infectious diseases) -- and non-acute care areas, which have an open-air exchange (for non-infectious diseases). The structures allow for social-distance requirements and a myriad of safety procedures."

2020 COVID 19 Governor Anndrew Cuomo New York Governor Andrew Cuomo holds a press briefing on Coronavirus, explains working on increasing hospital capacity, building new beds, and increasing medical supplies.Photo by Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Despite all the prep work, the company was unsuccessful with their initial bid. "We lost," said Simonette. "Javits instead awarded [the contract to] T3 Expo and used its rental panel walls for the host of the 3,000 rooms." T3 Expo has long been an approved contractor at the Javits Center and has supported events there in the past for clients including ANIME NYC, The Toy Association, Salesforce, and Amazon.

However, there was a place for Czarnowski in the process. The company's Enhanced Temporary Patient Rooms (ETPRs) were well-suited for handling acute (and non-acute) needs. " Javits recognized this and purchased a complement of 40 rooms to serve as its "COVID" rooms," Simonette said.

It was a small win, but it made a big impact.

New York wasn't the only state opening field hospitals. Louisiana, California, Tennessee, Michigan, Georgia, and Illinois followed suit. In all, over 30 were planned. According to Simonette, "Czarnowski's win [at Javits] paved the way for the selling of thousands of our ETPRs into other field hospitals as USACE decided that our solution was a better hedge against the potential of hospital overcrowding."

As planning evolved, field hospitals in Stony Brook, New York; Memphis, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; and Santa Clarita, California became ETPR-only hospitals.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to National Guard members and the media at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center which is being turned into a hospital to help fight coronavirus cases on March 27, 2020. Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

"Designers, builders, and installers all had to work with an understanding of what the USACE was looking for as an end product," described Simonette. "We've been glad to introduce them to materials such as rigid PVC wall skins that are lightweight, cost-effective, and easily sanitized, which they hadn't considered before, that we know well and work with regularly."

While unemployment claims soared, the new work meant that Czarnowski could bring much of its staff back to work.

"Our COVID-19 efforts have put about 80-100 of our staff back to work, and surely benefited others, who build and supply the materials needed for these builds," said Simonette.

As the spirit of togetherness and unselfishness swept the nation, it also infected the Czarnowski team. "Czarnowski Collective led the way in sharing information and intellectual property," said Simonette. "In the midst of a pandemic, it seemed unethical and irresponsible to hoard best practices for the buildouts to test and treat COVID-19 patients, so we approached our competitors, and formed the Live for Life coalition, to address this problem together.

"There are now more than 200 members, and together we're stronger -- we have increased production capacity, we're sharing critical information, and importantly we can anticipate and react faster to new and changing needs in care and testing. Having capacity at the ready is our biggest strength."

Javits Center setup COVID 19 Czarnowski Collective Czarnowski Collective didn't win the contract to set up the Javits Center, but they were given a portion to collaborate on.Photo courtesy of Czarnowski Collective

Despite all the workmen at the ready, there was still confusion and chaos surrounding the build-outs. "The biggest challenge was the stop-and-start nature of production, especially in the beginning, when there were multiple voices, and developments on an hourly basis contributing to the confusion," said Simonette. "In one instance, we had trucks en route to a city when the project was abruptly canceled."

Czarnowski's initial contract was for three months.

Out of the four requested, the Javits Center was the only field hospital that opened in New York after hospitalizations due to the disease fell far below predicted scenario levels. It closed on May 1 after treating more than 1,000 patients. On May 5, the operation was turned over to an integrated health care network called Northwell Health.

At the time it closed, after just a month of operation, New York State had seen over 300,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. An NPR analysis of federal spending records determined that the cost of the field hospitals is than $660 million, despite many remaining largely unused. Forty percent of that money, $270 million, was spent at just two facilities: the State University of New York at Stony Brook and SUNY Old Westbury.

"It's good to remember that the best-case scenario is having these COVID-19 build projects cancelled, once the virus comes under control," said Simonette.

Though Americans, and the rest of the world, are still not out of the woods when it comes to the virus, businesses like Czarnowski are continuing to find a way to operate by overcoming tough conditions and thriving when faced with new challenges.

"The shift in focus -- from catering to consumers, to catering to patients -- has been as much of a challenge as it's been a privilege. There are few more pressing issues in the world today, and we're grateful to have established ourselves within the scaffolding of addressing the COVID-19 crisis," said Simonette.

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The Lotus Evija is the most powerful series production road car ever built.

Photo courtesy of Lotus Cars

The Lotus Evija is Britain's first all-electric hypercar. Its powertrain delivers a minimum of 986 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque, with its upper limits reaching near 1,973 horsepower, making it the most powerful series production road car ever built.

The British automaker is showing off the prowess of the Evija for the first time on the track. A new video (vailable below) showcases the model at the 2.2-mile track at Hethel, Lotus's headquarters.

Piloting the Evija is Gavan Kershaw, Director of Vehicle Attributes for Lotus. In the video, he provides extensive new commentary on key elements of the Evija project as on-board cameras reveal the capabilities of the car.

Gavan Kershaw, Director of Vehicle Attributes for Lotus Gavan Kershaw, Director of Vehicle Attributes for Lotus, pilots the car in the video.Photo courtesy of Lotus Cars

In the film, Kershaw takes the audience through the development journey of the Evija from the earliest discussions amongst Lotus staff to today.

The model features five drive modes, each designed to enhance a different part of the Evija driving experience. Range mode is limited to 986 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, switching the Evija from four-wheel drive to all-wheel drive, in an effort to save power.

The City driving mode adds power Control, compared to the Range mode, by increasing regenerative braking ability, which is optimal for urban environments.

In Tour mode, the drive system is switchable to four- or rear-wheel drive. This drive mode delivers 1,381 horsepower and activates torque vectoring technology.

The car's Sport and Track mode deliver the most power and performance. Sport mode ups the power to 1,677 horsepower and 1,254 pound-feet of torque, and increases traction levels. Using Track mode, power is boosted to 1,973 horsepower. The car's Drag Reduction System is available on request to deliver the highest level of torque vectoring technology available. In this mode, the chassis setting is automatically switched to Track.

Lotus has given the Evija a top track speed of 200 mph.

Lotus Evija development prototype on test at Hethel www.youtube.com

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This McLaren Senna GTR LM wears the classic Harrods livery.

Photo courtesy of McLaren Automobiles

The 1995 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was a milestone in McLaren history. That year, five McLaren F1 GTRs finished in the top 15, placing 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 13th. Five customer-commissioned McLaren Senna GTR models celebrate that iconic race.

The five cars wear a bespoke, hand-painted livery that either replicates or pays tribute to the design of each of the 1995 cars.

Each of the models is a unique creation raking more than 800 hours of craftsmanship by McLaren Special Operations to complete. Two of the five models are headed to the U.S. - one in Gulf livery and the other an art car that required several thousand hours of work to complete its unique airbrush paintwork.

McLaren Senna GTR Le Mans 1995 Tribute Each of the models pays tribute to vehicles raced in the 1995 24 Horus of Le Mans.Photo courtesy of McLaren Automobiles

The McLaren Senna GTR is the fastest-lapping car McLaren has ever made outside of Formula 1. These models include an upgraded twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter engine that puts out 833 brake horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque.

Scroll down to see models and read descriptions of each, provided by McLaren.

McLaren Senna GTR LM 825/1

Photo courtesy of McLaren Automobiles

An homage to McLaren F1/01R, often referenced as 'The Ueno Clinic car' and the outright winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995

The car bearing race number 59 was driven in 1995 by two-time Le Mans winner Yannick Dalmas, Japanese veteran Masanori Sekiya and former Formula One driver, JJ Lehto.

The race was one of the wettest in Le Mans' history, which played into the hands of the bulletproof reliability of the McLaren F1 and also the skills of the drivers – especially Lehto, who was so quick in the wet his team tried to persuade him to slow down.

The charcoal grey livery branded with the name of Japanese sponsor Ueno Clinic was not widely recognised at the time but has since passed into legend. The MSO team has faithfully recreated it on the McLaren Senna GTR LM, precisely matching the color by mixing a new tone dubbed 'Ueno Grey' – a fitting tribute to achievements of the car, and of course its three drivers.

This car has been very authentically reproduced from the original race-winning F1 GTR, echoing every last detail right down to recreating car 59's unique driving lamps, which have been specially commissioned by the GTR LM's owner*.

The OZ Racing wheels are finished in matching grey, completing the menacing look that still sends shivers down the spine of race fans 25 years after the chequered flag fell.

McLaren Senna GTR LM 825/6

Photo courtesy of McLaren Automobiles

An homage to McLaren F1/06R, often referenced as 'The Harrods car'

Car number 51, driven by an all-British line up of Andy Wallace, Derek Bell and Justin Bell, might well have won had it not suffered a transmission glitch two hours from the flag that saw Wallace have to nurse the car home in third place.

The car's famous yellow livery with bold green stripe bore the name of iconic London department store, Harrods – and that prestigious relationship has been reunited for the GTR LM. While the colors have been worn again by a McLaren since the 1995 race – a McLaren P1™ GTR was finished in the livery in 2015 – this is the first time that the famous Harrods logo has been seen on a McLaren for 25 years.

The MSO paint team used a vivid color called Solar Yellow for the body of the car, and that distinctive wide stripe is applied in Heritage Green, shadowed by a matching green pinstripe and green detailing within the front aero diffuser.

McLaren Senna GTR LM 825/2

Photo courtesy of McLaren Automobiles

An homage to McLaren F1/02R, often referenced as 'The Gulf car'

Brazilian Maurizio Sandro Sala joined Brits Mark Blundell and Ray Bellm behind the wheel of the McLaren F1 GTR for 291 rain-lashed laps of La Sarthe in 1995, eventually finishing in fourth place.

Car number 24 had arguably the most iconic livery of any of the cars. The Gulf Racing blue, perfectly reimagined here by MSO as Gulf 95 Blue, fits the McLaren Senna GTR LM seamlessly. Its 'Gulf 95 Orange' pinstripe traces the rear diffuser and the imposing shape of the rear wing's LMP1-style endplates, tracks along the lower sill and unites at the front with vivid orange blades on the front splitter.

The OZ Racing wheels conform to the theme, being finished in equally vivid orange, while the lower sills and roof stripe are painted in Gulf 95 Silver. The actual Gulf Oil logo appears on the bonnet and doors, and a finishing touch is provided by Ayrton Senna's signature boldly recreated on the rear quarter of the bodywork.

McLaren Senna GTR LM 825/7

Photo courtesy of McLaren Automobiles

An homage to McLaren F1/07R, often referenced as 'The Jacadi car'

Car number 50 was run by French-based customer team Giroix Racing. Two French drivers – Fabien Giroix and Olivier Grouillard – joined Swiss pilot Jean-Denis Deletraz to bring the car home in fifth place, just a lap down on the Gulf car.

The unmistakeable royal blue livery was proudly French-themed and has been preserved by the McLaren Senna GTR LM's new owner by the specification of a startlingly bright color called Le Mans Blue for the body of the car. It looks particularly stunning on the GTR LM's massive rear diffuser.

That blue is complemented by a blue metallic called 'Polaris', and further offset by the use of authentic Elf logos belonging to the French oil company which sponsored the 1995 race car. The car is the only one of the five to wear the French Tricolour flag.

McLaren Senna GTR LM 825/5

Photo courtesy of McLaren Automobiles

An homage to McLaren F1/05R, often referenced as 'The Cesar car'

Displaying the most intricate livery design of all the McLaren F1 GTRs that raced in 1995, car number 42 finished 13th position, completing the McLaren roll of honour of finishers.

Run by French team Société BBA, the striking car was driven by an all-French line-up of Jean-Luc Maury-Laribiere, Marc Sourd and Hervé Poulin. Maury-Laribiere and Poulin were pioneers of 'art cars' and asked renowned artist Cesar Baldaccini to envisage a livery for the F1 GTR they would be racing at Le Mans.

An experienced endurance racer, Poulin's fine collection of racing trophies became the inspiration for Cesar's work on the McLaren.

McLaren Senna GTR LM 825/5 is a modern reinterpretation of the livery, drawing in new elements, such as pole position lap times; contemporary race trophies and Le Mans branding cues.

An immensely complex piece of work produced using many techniques – including extensive airbrushing – this was the car that took longest to paint, to the point that MSO stopped recording the time taken. As an estimate, several thousand hours of work were needed to finish the project to the exemplary standard that is now so evident.

All five McLaren Senna GTR LMs have now been completed and will be delivered to owners in the United States, Europe and the UK. As with all bespoke commissions created by McLaren Special Operations, their value remains undisclosed unless the owners choose to share this detail.

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