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900 North Michigan Shops renovation includes 190-foot-long digital art installation on the ceiling

The installation is visible from all floors and built in 10 different sections.

November 15, 2017 |
The digital display showing trees swaying in the breeze at 900 North Michigan Shops

It isn’t always easy to bring natural light to the interior of indoor shopping centers. While the recent ESI Design-led renovation of 900 North Michigan Shops on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile didn’t open up the roof directly to the outdoors, it did provide the next best option: a ten section digital installation that mimics the outside sky.

Visible from all floors, the display can show flocks of 3D-animated birds flying overhead, colorful trees sway in a light breeze, or just the brilliant blue sky of a summer afternoon. Some of the content was filmed at 16K resolution with state-of-the-art cameras in order to appear as real as possible on the ultra-high definition LED screens.

The animated birds, Cedar Waxwings to be precise, will never fly the same way twice thanks to incorporated algorithmic rules based on flocking behaviors and the background sunlight and sky will adapt automatically to the current time of day. The ceiling displays can also be used as a showcase for branded content, seasonal content, products, promotions, and special events.



“The new design that includes a digital canopy is unlike anything that’s ever been installed in a mall,” says Edwin Schlossberg, President and Principal Designer at ESI Design, in a release.

The renovation also includes better signage and wayfinding strategies. Each store’s visibility has been increased due to illuminated signs that feature retailer names and are placed directly in front of each store facing out into the atrium.

A new 37.5-foot-tall bronze threshold entry has also been added. The new entry features a refreshed glass curtain that helps the shopping center stand out on the north end of the Magnificent Mile. The new entry walls are covered with white laminated glass panels that showcase the names of retailers and the ‘900’ brand identity is communicated at the top of the building façade and repeated at the pedestrian eye level below.


900 North Michigan Shops before and after the renovation


The renovation acts as phase two of a larger renovation project to improve the visitor experience at 900 North Michigan Shops.


Flowering trees shown on ESI Design's new digital installation

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