ILUMINARC Architectural Lighting Brings Color and Excitement to Chicago Celebration

burnham-5.jpgCHICAGO -- ILUMINARC architectural lighting fixtures lit from the ground up one of two pavilions that opened June 20 before some 11,000 viewers in Chicago's Millennium Park, as part of a year-long celebration of architect Daniel Burnham.

Burnham is credited for creating the first city master plan 100 years ago titled Plan of Chicago. The celebration includes the construction of two temporary pavilions by renowned architects Amsterdam-based Ben van Berkel and Pritzker Prize Laureate Zaha Hadid of London. Van Berkel's pavilion was the first to open.

Lighting Director Tracey Dear, of Dear Productions, selected LED-fitted ILUMINARC lights, citing their reliability and affordability. “The budget, all raised through donations, was a huge concern,” he said.

ILUMINARC fixtures will also illuminate Hadid's creation. The two structures are expected to draw more than 4 million viewers through Oct. 31.

This type of exposure for the newly formed ILUMINARC is unheard of, said Business Development Manager Jamey Brock. “To have the opportunity to illuminate these historic pavilions by two of the most recognized living architects is an honor, and is greatly appreciated,” he said. “When Tracey Dear called and asked if we were ready, I did not hesitate, and our team responded remarkably. The proof is in the result, and it is beautiful.”

Dear, who specified a total of 21 Ilumipod 18 and 54 Ilumipod 36 IP Optic RGB units, is thrilled so far with the fixtures' performance. “We used some special diffusion to spread the light more and to hide the source, we are very, very satisfied,” he said. He added that the color palette of the lights was inspired by the pastels used in Burnham's Plan of Chicago document.

The lights are embedded in the floor of the pavilion and respond to an automated control system that triggers changes in hues and intensity depending on where people stand. In his opening ceremony remarks, van Berkel said that the square pavilion (80-by-80-feet) represents the grid that Burnham used in his Chicago Plan to provide logic and organization to the early 1900s landscape, then a hodgepodge of lakefront warehouses, tent cities and railroads.

“The base and roof of the pavilion appear to float,” said Emily Harris, executive director of Chicago Metropolis 2020, who has spent more than two years planning the celebration and the announcement of a new master plan for the city.

Harris said the ILUMINARC lights, programmed by Chicago artist Daniel Sauter, were spectacular inside the stark white pavilion. Van Berkel said the “eyebrow” features that rise above the roof represent the future as well as Burnham's vision for the city. Through the eyebrows, visitors can get peek-a-boo views of the downtown skyscrapers.

Since the Aug. 4 opening of the Hadid pavilion, thousands of people have visited the structure.

Unlike van Berkel's high gloss structure with three scoop-like supports, Hadid chose an elastic, silver-gray tent fabric to cover a 7,000-piece aluminum structure. She added oblong slits along the top of the pavilion for skylights. Hadid calls this look a “fluid form.”

The same LED fixtures were used to light the Hadid structure, but the effect created was completely different.

“It was our intent to make Hadid's pavilion warm while van Berkel's is more playful,” Dear said. Hadid's fabric was very porous, “so it does soak up the color, whereas van Berkel's pavilion has a reflective finish to bounce the light between the two surfaces” of the floor and roof, he added.

“With Hadid, we wanted to use dark, saturated complementary colors for the inside and out and to make it more futuristic looking.”

Inside the Hadid pavilion, visitors can view a video that represents the past, present and the future of Chicago. The installation was produced by the London artist Thomas Gray, who trained at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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