Sonorous Reception

In downtown Chicago, a generative and interactive sound sculpture in the lobby of the elegant business building at 190 La Salle Street creates an ever-changing, lively atmosphere.

The Building

Located in Chicago's central loop, the business building was originally designed by John Burgee Architects and Philip Johnson in 1987. The postmodern lobby, with a 15-metre-high vaulted ceiling of gold leaf, has recently been redesigned by Norman KelleyArchitects, with seating areas, a café and an amphitheatre that comes to life with an immersive audio experience.

Technical Facts

  • Installation reacts to movement and various environmental data
  • 81 light sensors and 3 motion sensors locate visitors
  • A total of 91 built-in loudspeakers
  • 8 active speakers for each person
  • Generative variations of tempo, scale or texture of the sounds
  • Score of 15 instruments, 4 tempos, 7 keys and scales

The Sound Sculpture

The sound installation in the semicircular amphitheatre reacts in real time to the weather and time of day, generating a constantly changing soundscape. Thus, each hour has its specific tempo, each day of the week its specific scale of tones and each meteorological situation its specific texture. These scores sound through the 8 closest of the 91 loudspeakers and consist of a selection of the 15 instruments, 4 tempos and 7 keys and scales. The soundscape is triggered by the physical interaction of the visitors: their movement is evaluated by 81 light sensors and three motion sensors placed behind the perforated brass panels of the amphitheater.

The Development Process

The sound installation was created in cooperation between iart and Idee und Klang. On the part of iart, the task implied three development steps. During the prototyping phase, mockups were built, and the behaviour of the various sensors was tested and optimised. In the implementation phase, plans were specified, the installed technology defined and the construction supervised. Finally, during commissioning, the previously developed software for controlling the installation was adapted to the concrete circumstances and the functioning of the entire experience was tested.

  • Opening


  • Location


  • Client

    Beacon Capital Partners

  • Partners

    Idee und Klang Audio DesignArchitects Norman KelleyGSTAV Service TechniciansWalters-Storyk Design Group

  • Services

    PrototypingSoftware DevelopmentElectronics DevelopmentInteraction DevelopmentControlling

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