Art installation by Olafur Eliasson debuts at Willis Tower
January 12, 2021
World-Renowned Artist and Climate Activist Olafur Eliasson Debuts New Cultural Landmark in Chicago at Iconic Willis Tower
CHICAGO, January 12, 2021 – EQ Office today revealed Atmospheric wave wall, a new cultural landmark and the first public art installation in Chicago by globally acclaimed artist Olafur Eliasson. Prominently displayed on the exterior Jackson Blvd. wall, the original piece was created specifically for Willis Tower. Atmospheric wave wall provides a free and accessible way to experience world-class art outdoors in the Loop.
EQ selected Eliasson given his international reputation and his emphasis on the environment, climate and humans’ relationship with nature. He was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for renewable energy and climate action by the United Nations Development Program in 2019. Eliasson’s work and philosophy align with EQ’s efforts to preserve the environment and local culture -- top priorities for the redevelopment of Willis Tower.
“Our vision is to create workplace destinations, like Willis Tower, that truly energize and inspire people and enhance the vibrancy of our downtown work homes,” said David Moore, Senior Vice President, Portfolio Director at EQ Office. “Art brings beauty and spurs imagination, and it is part of our unique offering that we curate for our customers and visitors. Eliasson’s approachable installation is intertwined with the infrastructure and architecture of the building, further establishing Willis Tower as a hub for community, inspiration and creativity.”
Atmospheric wave wall creates a dynamic experience that is activated by the motion of people walking, driving, or biking past; by the motion of the earth in relation to the sun as light moves across it; and by changes in the season and weather. Each tile is curved, like a fragment of the inner surface of a sphere, and the main blue, deep green and white tones were inspired by the surfaces of nearby Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. The powder-coated steel catches the light of the sun, and the concave surfaces collect shadows that shift as the day progresses. At night, the piece is lit from behind so flashes of light escape through the interstices between the tiles. The massive piece measures roughly 30’ x 60’ and covers the exterior Jackson Blvd. wall with a pattern of 1,963 metal tiles.
“It was a great pleasure for me to create a work of art specifically for Willis Tower and for Chicago,” said Olafur Eliasson. “Inspired by the unpredictable weather that I witnessed stirring up the surface of Lake Michigan, Atmospheric wave wall appears to change according to your position and to the time of day and year. What we see depends on our point of view: understanding this is an important step toward realizing that we can change reality. It is my hope that this subtle intervention can make a positive contribution to the building and to the local community by reflecting the complex activity all around us, the invisible interactions and minute fluctuations that make up our shared public space.”
EQ’s art initiative at Willis Tower, Art of the Neighborhood, brings the redevelopment vision to life by fostering ongoing arts and culture programming that invites tenants and visitors to socialize and further creates a sense of community in the Chicago Loop. Atmospheric wave wall is the latest addition to the program following the July 2019 installation of In the Heart of this Infinite Particle of Galactic Dust by Jacob Hashimoto. EQ worked with curator CNL Projects to commission this piece.
“Chicago is home to some of the world’s most iconic and beloved public art, so it is a thrill to welcome this new installation by renowned artist Olafur Eliasson to the downtown landscape,” said Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “Inspired by our own Lake Michigan, Atmospheric wave wall will entice and engage residents and visitors alike—sparking much needed delight in our shared public spaces.”
Eliasson is a Berlin-based, Danish-Icelandic artist driven by his interests in perception, movement, embodied experience and feelings of self. His works span sculpture, painting, photography, film and installation and he has held numerous major exhibitions around the world while also engaging the public through architectural projects, interventions in civic space, arts education, policymaking and issues of sustainability and climate change.
Atmospheric wave wall is a permanent fixture on the exterior of Willis Tower’s Jackson Blvd. wall and is available for public viewing. Photos and video of the installation can be found here. For more information and assets about Willis Tower, please visit the press kit here.
About EQ Office
EQ focuses on the experience of its 31 million square feet – how space feels, activates and performs to amplify the human experience. We're proud to work hand-in-hand with more than 1,500 customers of all sizes, from Fortune 100 companies to emerging startups, to bring humanity back to the workplace. Our diverse team of 200+ professionals is responsible for creating inspired office environments in major cities across the country including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. As a U.S. office portfolio company wholly owned by Blackstone's real estate funds, we have the resources to lead the changes happening in workspace. Explore your space for greatness at www.eqoffice.com.
About Willis Tower
Located at 233 S. Wacker Drive in the heart of downtown Chicago, Willis Tower is an urban destination and state-of-the-art workplace that welcomes prominent businesses ranging from law firms to large airline corporations to insurance companies. Standing 1,450 feet and 110 stories tall, Willis Tower has the region's most breathtaking views of Chicago and Lake Michigan. Willis Tower's Skydeck attracts more than 1.7 million visitors each year with its inviting hospitality and memorable experiences. In early 2017, Blackstone and EQ Office announced plans for the biggest restorative transformation project in the building's 47-year history. The $500 million renovation project now underway includes the addition of Catalog, a more than 300,000 square-feet curated dining, entertainment and community experience, as well as a 30,000 square-feet outdoor deck and garden, evolving at the base of the tower. The Catalog name is a historical nod to Willis Tower's original developer and owner, Sears Roebuck, and its popular printed catalog, which was a retail disrupter of its age. Catalog offers an effective way to experience great content, products and experiences. New tenants are now opening in Catalog, and this will continue through its completion in 2021. The Tower renovation also includes 150,000 square feet of new tenant amenity spaces. As part of the renovation, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded Willis Tower the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification for energy efficiency upgrades made throughout the Tower. Willis Tower was also recently named one of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat's (CTBUH) 50 Most Influential Tall Buildings of the Last 50 Years and to the Illinois Council of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Illinois' 200 Great Places list. For more information, visit www.WillisTower.com and connect on Facebook and Instagram.
About Olafur Eliasson
Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967) works with sculpture, painting, photography, film, installation, and digital media. His art is driven by his interests in perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self and community. Not limited to the confines of the museum and gallery, his practice engages the public through architectural projects, interventions in civic space, arts education, policy-making, and climate action. Eliasson is internationally-renowned for his public installations that challenge the way we perceive and co-create our environments. In 2003, he made The weather project, a glowing indoor sun shrouded in mist at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in London. In 2008, Eliasson constructed four expansive artificial waterfalls along the Manhattan and Brooklyn shorelines for The New York City Waterfalls. He has also explored art’s potential to address climate change: for Ice Watch, he brought large blocks of free-floating glacial ice to the city centers of Copenhagen in 2014, Paris in 2015, and London in 2018. Passers-by could touch fragments of the Greenlandic glacial ice and witness its fragility as it disappeared before them. In 2019, Eliasson was named UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for climate action and the sustainable development goals. In 2020, funded by the Federal Foreign Office on the occasion of the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2020, Eliasson, together with kids around the world, created Earth Speakr, an artwork inviting kids to speak up for the planet and adults to listen up to what they have to say. Located in Berlin, Studio Olafur Eliasson comprises a large team of craftsmen, architects, archivists, researchers, administrators, cooks, art historians, and specialised technicians.