The center of Glendale has a new musical heartbeat: 101 North Brand’s outdoor art installation

Posted October 7, 2020

Could you imagine that your local office building became a cornerstone of your neighborhood social life? That’s what happened at 101 N Brand in Glendale, CA, where an empty plaza was transformed into a lively town square with a large-scale digital art installation that’s one part musical instrument and one part video experience.

Take a look at how in this video:

Modern Town Square   

ESI Design worked with Beacon Capital Partners to update the plaza at 101 N Brand into a modern town square for both the tenants in the people and the people of Glendale. This new town square centers around an interactive art installation known as the “Chromaphone.” With the Chromaphone activating the plaza and additional design elements unifying the building’s façade, plaza, and lobby, ESI Design succeeding in transforming a basic office building into an engaging destination.

The transformation began with an integrated approach focused on understanding the Glendale audience. We discovered a young creative class hungry for connection, and understood they would be best served with a new, vibrant place to mingle. Actualizing this approach required a cohesive experience design renewal plan that leveraged multiple disciplines to imagine a new kind of town square.


Introducing the Chromaphone

As designers from different disciplines explored the town square concept, they all honed in on the fact that many of these spaces are defined by a focal point like a statue, pond, or memorial. At 101 N Brand, that focal point is a playful interactive art installation called the Chromaphone. The Chromaphone is part musical instrument, part digital sculpture, and empowers community to play as musicians and video artists.

The Chromaphone is made of two parts: a touch console in the center of the plaza, and a vertical digital display that rises up from the building itself. Users activate the Chromophone through touch surfaces on the console, effectively “playing” the building by producing both sounds and visuals on the digital clock tower. While individual users can play the Chromaphone, the installation really comes alive when groups collaborate to create something unique in real-time.

The visuals and sounds can appear in one of two modes, the Waterfall Sequencer and the Elemental Sampler. Each mode generates different abstract patterns and colors.  And true to its inspiration as a clock tower, the Chrompahone broadcasts a chime every hour, sending its town square energy throughout the neighborhood.

At a time when outdoor social spaces are more important than ever, Glendale needed a new space for safe, exterior space to connect with their friends. Thanks to the Chromaphone, the plaza at 101 N Brand is that place, and the spot for every resident of Glendale to meet, entertain and be entertained.


Plaza Reactivation

While the Chromaphone certainly grabs attention, 101 N Brand’s renewed sense of place relies on more than just the media. This new identity is expressed through a variety of experience design disciplines, including new building ID, eye-catching signage, inviting new furniture, an updated water feature, and lush landscaping.


Connecting the exterior plaza to the lobby interior

When you walk inside the lobby of 101 N Brand, you see immediately that the exterior and interior are linked for a continuous sense of place. The vibrant design continues in the building’s interior, with a lobby updated with warmer and more comfortable furniture. Improved wayfinding and fine art by Emilio Perez adds to the environment, but the coolest thing is a muted media display behind the new security desk that echoes the Chromaphone.


Last Look At This Art Installation

ESI Design transformed this neighborhood building into a destination, attracting the community and new tenants alike. After the renovation, 101 North Brand’s office space is 97% leased, above the average for the neighborhood. Time waits for no man, but the interactive public art installation at 101 North Brand is an invitation for everyone.


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Thank You to Our Project Partners

The renewal of 101 N Brand and the design, fabrication and installation of The Chromaphone was made possible through the tremendous vision from our client Beacon Capital Partners and the imagination and ingenuity of the project team: ESI Design (experience design), Kardent (architect of record), Maltbie (fabrication), Diversified Systems (systems integration), AV&C (software development), Turrelk (general contractor). We’d also like to recognize the larger project team which includes: Anne Strauss (lobby fine art consultant), and Emilio Perez (lobby artist).

Tarley Jordan

Tarley is the studio’s Associate / Marketing and Communications Director and writes about interesting happenings across the studio and the world of experience design.

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