Atmospheric Wave Wall

John Hill
15. January 2021
Photo courtesy of EQ Office

Artist Olafur Eliasson's installation, Atmospheric wave wall, was recently unveiled on the base of Chicago's Willis Tower, which was bought by Blackstone for $1.3 billion in 2015. The artwork is part of a $500 million renovation of the iconic skyscraper still known to many as the Sears Tower.

The artwork was unveiled on January 12 by EQ Office, the US office portfolio company wholly owned by Blackstone's real estate funds and the company that manages Willis Tower. Atmospheric wave wall is part of EQ's Art of the Neighborhood program that started in early 2019 as a way of bringing art into the orbit of the 108-story tower. In addition to Eliasson's piece, another permanent installation already unveiled is Jacob Hashimoto's 2019 piece, In the Heart of this Infinite Particle of Galactic Dust, located in the lobby facing Wacker Drive.

Eliasson's installation, made of hundreds of curved metal tiles, was inspired, according to a press release, by Chicago's waterways, specifically the "unpredictable weather" the artist witnessed "stirring up the surface of Lake Michigan." Atmospheric wave wall, the artist says, "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." He intends that the artwork makes an impact on passersby "by reflecting the complex activity all around us, the invisible interactions and minute fluctuations that make up our shared public space."

Atmospheric wave wall faces Jackson Boulevard, where "Catalog, a five-story dining, retail and immersive-entertainment experience," is located. (Photo courtesy of EQ Office)
The installation measures roughly 30x60 feet (9x18m) and is made of 1,963 powder-coated steel tiles. (Photo courtesy of EQ Office)
The joints between the tiles will glow when the installation is backlit at night. (Photo courtesy of EQ Office)

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