The Living Room of Chicago / by Alston Thompson

The mother-ship of the Chicago Architecture Biennial is the Chicago Cultural Center. At the entrance the design team of Pedro&Juana from Mexico City have created “Randolph Square” which gives a whimsical jolt of light from spherical fixtures; not unlike the old gas sconces that originally lit the space. The lights are conjoined by bright orange rope and a pulley system which is counterbalanced by solid brass weights. Having undergone many transformations since its construction in 1897 as the public library, the choice of a moving light system is brilliant. Visitors are encouraged to pull on the weights and ropes, which gives the space fluidity and a visceral experience for visitors. 

The white, metal mesh furniture, some of which is on rockers, enhances the feeling of lightness and movement of the space. Having designed such an interactive lighting system draws visitors into what was conceived as the “living room of the city”.