Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
Art on theMART
Art on theMART will be the largest digital art projection in the world. This will be a first-of-its-kind for Chicago, projected across 2.5 acres (two football fields) of theMART’s exterior river-façade, adding to the city’s vibrant public art scene. Image courtesy of Josh Brott, Obscura Digital
  • Project Type
    • Building
  • Status
  • Delivery Method
    • Construction Management At-Risk
  • Services
  • Location
    • 222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza Chicago, IL 60654
  • Duration
    • 9 Months
  • Size
    • 2.5 acre projection
  • Architect
    • Obscura Digital with Valerio Dewalt Train Associates
Project Overview

In the spirit of Chicago’s great legacy of public art and culture, Art on theMART is the largest digital art projection in the world. This installation is a first-of-its-kind for Chicago, projected across 2.5 acres (two football fields) of theMART’s exterior river-façade, adding to the city’s vibrant public art scene. The idea was first proposed in 2014 by Mayor Emanuel’s team and the tourism bureau of Chicago.

Approach

Our work as construction manager on the project centered on modifications at the Chicago River Walk to create the structure and associated facilities for the projector. This included the construction of a server room, projection room, ComEd electrical vault with new 480 V service, a food service kitchen and public restroom facilities. We also brought fiber optic communication lines under the Chicago River and conducted vibration studies to determine the viability of the installation.

Our crews installed 108 anchors for the projector racks, all of which were within a mandatory 1/32” tolerance. Tolerances were especially tight because one millimeter of deviation at the projector installation would have created two feet of deviation of the image on the building.

All construction took place in a highly trafficked public area, the Chicago Riverwalk, so dust control and careful logistics planning was critical. The project required multiple lanes closures on Lower and Upper Wacker Drive, which were all coordinated with the City and went on without incident. This included placing a Berglund crane on Upper Wacker Drive.

The project was completed on time and on budget, resulting in the largest digital art display in the world. From March through December, Art on theMART is scheduled to run on Wednesdays through Sundays for up to two hours.