Feeding the Content-Hungry Corporate Tenant

Posted February 9, 2016


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Lobby of 180 North LaSalle in Chicago, Illinois

People sure do bore fast. Today’s cool art piece is tomorrow’s wallpaper, and tomorrow’s wallpaper is the next day’s eyesore. Early on in ESI Design’s relationship with Beacon Capital Partners, our experience designers realized they could solve this problem with continually updating digital media. By linking our artful installations and informative screens to data-driven feeds, ESI Design ensures that the environments we design stay fresh and keep tenants interested.

At first, the feeds accessed weather, local events and some visuals. But over time, ESI has developed sophisticated installations that transform Instagram images into art and stock market moves into dynamic visuals. Across a range of properties, live data feeds fuel protean, innovative, immersive design.

ESI Design developed this capacity while redesigning the lobby experience of a corporate office building at 745 Atlantic Avenue, in Boston, Massachusetts. In the elevator bays at 745, monitors dynamically display weather updates, alerts about local cultural events and images from a specially curated Instagram feed. Equal parts aesthetic and technological innovation, Beacon Capital had never seen anything like it, and they wanted more. Since then, this site-specific, visual approach to informative feeds has become a hallmark of almost every Beacon Capital project ESI designs.

The success of 745 Atlantic Ave. left everyone wondering what other innovative kinds of evergreen installations ESI could weave out of an endless stream of data. The answer came on the next project, 177 Huntington (also in Boston). Here, ESI used weather and stock market data to generate artistic visualizations across ten floor-to-ceiling LED strips. The weather mode used color and motion to provide hourly and ten-day forecasts in a new and interesting way, while the stock market mode showcased the previous day’s winners and losers as red or green bolts shooting up and down the walls. Naturally, no one based their financial planning on what they see while waiting for the elevator, but that isn’t the point. This installation proved that feed-based installations can theme a space with life and energy.

By the time ESI began designing 180 North LaSalle in Chicago, Illinois, the goal wasn’t just theming spaces with data feeds; it was totally transforming them. Doric columns, pointed cornices and other neoclassical touches characterize the lobby at 180 North LaSalle. ESI brought those cold, static features to life with projection-mapped data visualizations generated from Twitter, Instagram and a dynamic weather feed.

A Sky Light installation at Columbia Center in Seattle, Washington

That weather feed, provided by WeatherUnderground, also drives one of ESI Design’s most abstract, and ambitious, media design projects. Sky Light, located near the elevators at Columbia Center in Seattle, Washington, is composed of three ambient light installations. The LED tubes that form each installation change color and pattern based on different weather effects. Each of the three Sky Light installations tells a different data-driven color story, brightening and activating the entire area.

And this is just the beginning. In the coming months, ESI will apply data feeds to new display technologies while also exploring previously untapped veins of real- time data. As more and more live feeds become available, providing information on everything from public transit to energy use to web metrics, ESI Design will continue mining them for media that engages, informs and never, ever bores.

Stuart Fox

Stuart Fox is a former content and activity designer at ESI Design. As familiar with digital storytelling as he is with words, as comfortable directing live action video as he is developing physical interactives, Stuart leverages every tool from his interdiscplinary experience to craft engaging, educational, emotional narratives.


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