The Beacon, PNC Plaza, US

November 6, 2015

Created by design firm ESI Design for the PNC Financial Services Group, the Beacon is a data-driven media installation located in The Tower at PNC Plaza, Pittsburgh, US. The installation pulsates with shifting light, colour and sound patterns, expressing environmental concerns in its motions that allude to energy and water consumption, water recycling, use of artificial light and other environmental building indicators.

The Beacon is a 24ft high installation suspended from a central ring on the atrium ceiling comprised of 1,584 transparent liquid crystal polycarbonate panels backed with a grid of eight LED lights. Drawing on real-time data from the building systems, the installation expresses in real time how the building uses fresh air and sunlight to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels to create a comfortable and healthy work environment. Creating a striking and unique media canvas, the installation also shows how the building is recycling water and how much of The Tower’s waste is being diverted from landfill.

As specialists in experience design, to encourage the public’s engagement with The Beacon, ESI Design created a website accessible on any digital device located in The Tower lobby. Visitors to the site can explore the meaning behind The Beacon’s light and sound displays, as well as more about the building’s state-of-the-art technology and design.
According to Vice President of Creative Strategy for ESI Design, Gideon D’Arcangelo, The Beacon sets a new model for how green buildings can engage and educate the public about sustainable design, green technologies and the role that tenants and visitors can play in water and energy conservation, recycling and composting.

“Our goal in designing The Beacon was to transform the way people experience the building and communicate the invisible things the building does, behind the scenes, to maximise resources,” said D’Arcangelo. “The Beacon is a dynamic, data-driven media installation that is intriguing and beautiful to look at and hear. It also rewards the curious, by explaining itself and encouraging people to dig deeper to learn how the building works and how it is performing at any given moment.”

ESI Design deployed the same design philosophy it uses in producing engaging experiences for retailers, cultural institutions, museums and other public spaces under the leadership of interactive pioneer Ed Schlossberg. ESI drew upon the team’s experience and design expertise in a variety of specialised disciplines, including interactive, visual, and website design.

This empowering installation is more than just a structure to admire for its aesthetics. It serves a thought provoking and imperative function in its service to reflect what The Tower itself aims to achieve for environment. Undoubtedly, it will be admired for both its inner and outer beauty.

Images courtesy of Andy Ryan

ESI Design's PNC Tower Beacon