The lobby of 515 North State, an iconic Chicago office building, has been re-imagined for the 21st century with large-scale digital art installation created by ESI Design.

The studio played on the typical old-school approach of installing an abstract painting and instead created a unique 14-foot-wide-by-23-foot-tall digital art installation that constantly ‘paints’ new color compositions.

 Canvas 515 North State, Chicago, ESI Design

Titled “Canvas,” the site-specific work deconstructs original video footage of life in Chicago’s vibrant River North neighborhood into a museum-worthy piece of art that is always evolving.

Using custom-designed software, the installation enables locally shot footage of scenes such as boats on the Chicago River and amusement rides on Navy Pier to dissolve into abstract patterns and then slowly sharpen back into clarity. “Canvas” has the ability to generate more than 5,000 unique compositions from nearly 5 hours of initial footage specially shot at 16 locations.

 Canvas 515 North State, Chicago, ESI Design

The soaring installation is visible from the street through the building’s glass facade, breathing life into the surrounding streetscape and creating a new Chicago attraction by capturing the attention of passersby.

 Canvas 515 North State, Chicago, ESI Design

“The daily motion of Chicago ‘paints’ the pictures into place at 515 North State,” describes Ed Purver, Senior Designer Creative Technology at ESI Design. “Our custom software analyzes each video for moving objects, so moments like a person walking, or a car driving become the ‘brushstrokes’ that slowly create each abstraction. As each video collides with the next, new compositions unfold in real time, literally creating thousands of possibilities in this one-of-a-kind evolving digital artwork.”

515 North State was designed in the 1990s by Pritzker Prize–winning Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, who topped the building with a four-story “sky-window” that became a defining element on the Chicago skyline.


 Canvas 515 North State, Chicago, ESI Design

all images © Caleb Tkach