Agency: ESI Design
Date: Feb 2018
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Flocks of birds fly in mesmerizing patterns and giant trees sway inside of 900 North Michigan Shops, the Magnificent Mile destination made over by a major renovation.

The centerpiece of the makeover is a massive, 190-foot-long digital art installation spanning the ceiling of the seven-level shopping and lifestyle center on Chicago’s Gold Coast. 900 North Michigan Shops enlisted New York City-based experience design studio ESI Design to transform the nearly 30-year-old complex into a 21st-century attraction for Chicago residents, shoppers, diners, and tourists.

Visible from all floors, and built in 10 sections, the digital installation mimics a giant skylight that connects the complex’s interior to the exterior sky. The ultra-high definition LED canvas features evocative content filmed at 16K resolution with state-of-the-art cameras, making the illusion of rustling trees and the sky above seem hyper real. In another mode, the ceiling opens to reveal flocks of 3D-animated birds. The Cedar Waxwing, local to the Chicago area, will gather and disperse, creating mesmerizing, ever-changing patterns, just like in nature. Created by algorithmic rules based on flocking behaviors, the birds will never fly the same way twice. The background sky and sunlight also adapt to the current time of day. By creating the feeling of an outdoor space, the installation captivates audiences, inspiring them to travel upward through the entire building and linger even longer.

The ceiling installation also serves as an innovative and powerful marketing tool. When not creating the illusion of an outdoor space, the ceiling serves as a vivid showcase for branded content, seasonal content, products, promotions, and special events. Its media program uses pre-rendered video and animation, software generated animation, and dynamic media templates that can be easily customized.


Agency: ESI Design

Client: 900 North Michigan Shops