Lightscape: A Multisensory Experience on State Street

Lightscape: A Multisensory Experience on State Street, a unique installation of color and light choreographed to music along State Street in downtown Chicago, was created to be a year-round attraction that will break new ground in interactive decorative city solutions. The project was commissioned and led by the Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) and the State Street Commission, designed by Creative Lighting Design & Engineering (CLD-E), DesignLab Chicago, and Site Design Group, and made a reality by LED technology from Traxon Technologies in conjunction with OSRAM SYLVANIA.

The Chicago Loop Alliance sought a year-round decorative lighting solution that could be adapted to changing seasons without excessive maintenance. The winning concept—an arrangement of LED reeds and integrated sound in planters along the sidewalks—was designed to drive interest and interaction along the street. The project needed to create a one-of-a-kind experience for residents and tourists that had built in flexibility.

Located along seven blocks of State Street, the installation features clusters of custom LED fixtures in 12 planters. Between 9am and 10pm each day, the installation’s embedded speakers broadcast musical selections and special announcements as the lights change patterns in synchronization with the music.

To accommodate the unique settings of Lightscape: A Multisensory Experience on State Street, several partners worked together to create a completely customized solution. Winona Lighting created the head assembly with sandblasted acrylic tops designed to contain Traxon’s LED fixtures, displaying them as beacons instead of projecting light in a particular direction. This custom housing was fitted specially to Comptec reeds made of aircraft-grade spun fiberglass. Chosen for its flexibility, the material allows the reeds to move slightly in the wind. Highline designed boxes for the space inside the planters. The enclosures for the LED control system, integrated by DesignLab Chicago, contain the wireless management system, which enables seamless control of the light and music shows, as well as custom dimming.

Traxon’s XB luminaires allowed customization and versatility with high-brightness output required for outdoor installation. Paired with an e:cue Lighting Control Engine and Butler XTs, the system allows the city to control every detail of the lighting display using pre-programmed shows or spontaneous triggering for live edits through an Internet connection. The LCE also controls the audio component of the installation, ensuring smooth operation of each lighting and sound scheme from beginning to end.

The new LED solution is low emission and energy-efficient. Even with year-round operation, it consumes only seven percent of the energy required to keep traditional holiday lights burning for a season. It will save 700,000 kilowatts over the next five years, a savings that translates into $75,000, based on current power costs.

The installation represents the new phase in a great Chicago tradition. In the future, the Chicago Loop Alliance hopes to work with key sponsors and partners to create engaging events that incorporate the installation and even create further interaction with passersby, perhaps by developing public access controls to specific portions of the project.

Creative Team
Chicago Loop Alliance, Owner
Site Design Group (Teresa Fourcher; Robert Sit; Ernie Wong), Architect
Creative Lighting Design & Engineering (Marty Peck, Jacqueline Dupre Kinney); DesignLab Chicago (Doug MacDonald, Larry Schoeneman); Site Design Group, Designers
DesignLab Chicago, Technical Director
Horizon Contractors, Contractor
DesignLab Chicago, VAP/System Integrator
Horizon Contractors, Installer
DesignLab Chicago, Programmer

660 Traxon Spot XB RGB (custom)
1 e:cue Lighting Control Engine
12 e:cue Butler XT
162 e:cue DMX2CC 12CH
47 Highline Boxes with covers
660 Winona Acrylic Head with top cap, bottom cap, glass lens, stem base
600 Comptec Fiberglass Pole, various lengths


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