Skip to Content

29-Foot ‘Suspended Light Veils’ Illuminate Lobbies at 71 South Wacker Drive


Chicago, Ill. (Nov. 30, 2017) — An unusual tenant is moving into the bustling office tower at 71 South Wacker Drive today: the sky.

The Irvine Company along with acclaimed visual designer, James Carpenter, unveiled a pair of illuminated hanging installations today that builds upon the vision of bringing the majesty of the sky into urban settings.

Irvine Company, owner of the trophy tower, commissioned the piece. One veil has been installed in the lobby at South Wacker Drive; the other has been installed in the lobby at Franklin Street.

“These exquisite installations bring light into the public realm, reframing the timelessness of Pei Cobb Freed’s architecture and awakening us to the beauty of light during our day-to-day lives,” said Doug Holte, president of office properties for the California-based Irvine Company, which owns the building. “While these installations represent a small component of our reinvestment in the building, they are a significant extension of our efforts to elevate the modern workplace, marrying art and architecture to create one of the most compelling office experiences in America.”

The light sculptures, titled “Suspended Light Veils,” are made of polished stainless steel ring mesh and are suspended from the atrium skylight grid. They are illuminated by theatrical lights from above and LED accent light strands from within. Transparent and diaphanous, the veils are 9 feet in diameter and 29 feet high, and float approximately 13 feet off the floor, creating airy volumes of shimmering light.

As the sun moves across the sky, the rings of reflective mesh respond differently to natural light filtering into the three-story lobby. Muted morning light renders the sculptures opaque. Afternoon light creates stark, oblique shadows and some transparency. When dusk and nighttime arrive, the artificial lighting and

programming take a commanding role, lending the sculptures electric and transparent qualities.

In vitrines by each lobby entry, a series of five, freestanding luminous light screens has been placed over a bed of black river rocks. The ring mesh material is introduced to visitors and pedestrians at the entrance and also within the lobbies, where visitors cannot help but notice the light clouds welcoming them and hovering over their heads at departure.

The 2005 Pei Cobb Freed & Partners tower already played with the transformative nature of light. This installation takes that sense of beauty a step further, changing its appearance throughout the course of the day, as the natural light retreats and the LED lights become more prominent.

From New York to Tel Aviv, James Carpenter has built a reputation on infusing city life with the remarkable beauty of light. “Suspended Light Veils” is an extension of that effort.

“I enjoy working with light, and this material has a very beautiful, diaphanous quality,” said James Carpenter, an accomplished American light artist and designer, MacArthur “genius grant” recipient and principal at his firm, based in New York City. “This material is like chainmail, and it feels liquid and flowing like light. The sculptures are glowing beacons that interact with daylight and look especially magical at night.”

Altogether the project took between five and six months to complete. It represents the continuing trend of installing large-scale art sculptures in office structures that are open to the public during regular business hours.

Terry Dowd Incorporated, based in Chicago, was the installer. James Carpenter Design Associates was the creator of the light veils and screens. Pei Cobb Freed and Partners designed the office tower, and the owner of the building is the Irvine Company, based in Irvine, Calif.

About James Carpenter Design Associates: James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA) is a cross-disciplinary design firm working at the intersection of art, engineering and the built environment. Led by artist and architect James Carpenter, the firm is recognized for its distinctive use of natural light, which serves as the foundation of its design philosophy.

Founded in 1979, JCDA’s creative team includes Richard Kress, Joseph Welker, Rayme Kuniyuki, Katharine McClellan and Garrett Ricciardi. JCDA has been recognized with numerous awards, including the National Environmental Design Award from the Smithsonian Institution and the American Institute of Architects

Honor Award. Carpenter received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2004 and “The Daylight Award” from the Villum and Velux Foundations in 2010.

About Irvine Company Office Properties: Irvine Company has evolved the traditional office to something much more: a vibrant workplace community. A place where collaboration is encouraged and creativity is enabled to elevate business success. The Company owns and manages 500 premier coastal California workplace communities in Orange County, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and San Diego, with additional properties in Chicago and New York. Its timeless design and quality craftsmanship is consistent with its long-term view and pride of ownership.


Success Works Here.®