LED Light Bars Turn Chicago Parkade Into Dynamic-Data Light Show

August 22, 2019 by Dave Haynes

This is kinda sorta digital signage, and kinda not, but an interesting take on blending building lighting with dynamic data feeds to create a constantly changing visual canvas.

The side of a parking garage in Chicago’s central business district now has a 95-foot-long weather art installation called Sensing Change, that converts real-time weather data into variables that trigger changes on the vertical LED lighting strips installed on the facade.

Constantly changing animations create abstract light patterns that mimic things like sunlight rippling through trees, rain falling, or clouds moving across the sky.

The 390-light installation was done between ESI Design and the lighting design firm upLIGHT.

Over time, ivy planted at the base (I assume) of the wall, is expected to climb create an interesting accent to the light bars. Ivy has a way of taking over, so I assume there may be a pruning gig for some Chicago landscaper.

I like this, and my only hang-up is that few people other than the people who paid for it, and the designers, will know what’s going on here. Like a lot of abstract dynamic visuals that are based on data, there’s rarely a mechanism, a sign or whatever, to tell people: “See that? It’s changing based on the weather. It’s never the same.”

This holds whether it is relatively low tech light bars like this (which represent a HUGE cost saving over outdoor LED) or a fine-pitch indoor LED feature wall.

The data-driven content thing is part of the magic and I think that’s often lost on most observers. The counter-argument is that viewers maybe don’t care and just enjoy what they see.

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