Conceived and created by design firm ESI Design, The Beacon is a first-of-its-kind, light-and-sound installation soaring 30-feet-high in the lobby of The Tower at PNC Plaza in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The transparent, sculptural structure interprets and visualizes data from the building’s advanced green systems and current environmental conditions like weather and sunlight. Through ever-changing light, color, text and sound patterns, The Beacon reflects the tower’s energy and water consumption, water recycling, sun exposure, natural ventilation, waste, composting, and use of artificial light, among other building indicators.
The Beacon expresses in real time how the building is using fresh air and sunlight to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels to create a comfortable, active work environment. It also shows how the building is recycling water to reduce water use, and how much of the tower’s waste is being diverted from the landfill.
It has been designed as a multi-sensory, audio-visual public experience, visible from both inside the lobby and outside at the street level. A customized website that explains The Beacon, including what its various patterns signify about the building’s performance, is accessible via tablets in the lobby and any digital device.
The installation is located in The Tower at PNC Plaza, the new corporate headquarters for PNC Bank. Believed to be the world’s greenest office tower, The Tower incorporates ground-breaking technology and design strategies and achieved LEED Platinum certification, the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest certification rating. PNC expects The Tower to consume 50% less energy and 77% less water than a typical office building.
The Beacon includes several innovative specs:
- 1,584 liquid-crystal polycarbonate panels which are each backed with a grid of 8 LEDS; weighs approximately 1500 lbs
- 32 horizontal and 48 vertical rows of panels.
- Features 5 key modes that generate interpretive expressions related to weather, sunlight, energy, water and recycling, ventilation and more.
Each mode generates unique patterns and pulses of light and color based on relevant data sets, such as energy use, internal and external temperature, wind speed, precipitation, window position, amount of sunlight on the facade, recycled water collection and treatment, recycling, composting levels and occupancy.
- Custom-designed audio for The Beacon draws the attention of visitors to the dynamic sculpture and orients them in the open atrium with both organic fields of shaped sound such as water or breathing as well as informatics.
- The layered audio creates a context for visuals and information displayed: The organic sounds relate to the building as a ‘living’ body, while the informatic sounds relate to the building’s ‘nervous system.
Location: Lobby of The Tower at PNC Plaza, 300 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
Design: ESI Design