The Aon Center, one of Chicago’s tallest and most recognizable buildings, has followed the lead of some other major commercial office properties in turning a feature in the lobby to a giant LED digital wall.
Part of a recent renovation of its lobby and atrium included a pair of 42-foot-wide by 10-foot-tall direct view LED walls running custom-designed motion graphics and video content. The commercial property owners used NanoLumens‘ light and skinny displays for the wall, though a press release doesn’t get into the pixel pitch.
“During renovation planning we worked with architects to include cutting-edge features that would be fun for tenants, prospective tenants and guests,” says Joe Hynes, Senior VP of Project Management at JLL, the center’s property management firm. “One of our ideas was a massive digital canvas, and NanoLumens was the obvious choice to make this idea a reality. As people pass by and enter the building their sight line is dominated by the astounding visuals playing on the NanoLumens displays. In fact, they have to walk right between the two displays in order to enter the main hallway, so it’s almost as if they are walking directly into the digital content itself.”
The walls run five three-minute videos on a constant loop. All the content was created by the Seattle-based content shop Pixelfire. One video shows the view from a train traversing Chicago as it passes by the lakefront, the Chicago Loop, the city’s elevated tracks and some of its famous architecture. Acting as a single, ultra-wide display, the train then crosses over the hallway onto the adjacent screen.
Another piece of creative content, says a press release, portrays a digital ballerina rising out of a water fountain that was created using motion capture of a live ballerina. A third visualization presents a mirror image on both displays of a picture in frames, which gradually change and move in different patterns on each display, which again captivates the lobby’s audience as they wait to see what happens next.
Hynes says they plan to update the content quarterly. “This is a visual experience unlike anything else in Chicago. It’s so enthralling that people, including tenants, are constantly stopping to take selfies and videos and sharing them on social media. The same thing happens at lunch hour as visitors pass by the displays on their way to the building’s restaurant section.”
Indianapolis-based integrator Sensory Technologies did the install, and Cariane Kafka, Project Manager at Sensory, notes that using Nano’s tech made the job particularly easy. “It’s a lightweight technology, so it doesn’t require much in terms of support infrastructure, and since it is composed of small Nixels that make up a larger display, people can work independently and get the job done quicker,” she says. “These two displays, making up a total of 840 square feet of digital real estate, were installed in just 11 days, almost a full week ahead of schedule. It’s also much easier on the content delivery side since there are only two displays, versus the complicated multi-display system that would be required for a projection or multi-panel installation.”
Big screens in office tower lobbies seems to be a thing now – the 2018 version of fancy water fountains. I know in talking to companies like ESI Designs, which has done a few lobbies, digital art walls are seen by commercial property owners as an amenity that both attracts and retains lease-holders who want to be in a building that’s cool and different.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.