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Willis Tower's Street-To-Sky Transformation Continues

by EQ NewsJul 16th, 2019

This article originally appeared in PR Newswire on July 16, 2019.

CHICAGO, July 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- EQ Office, the U.S. office portfolio company wholly-owned by Blackstone, has reopened Willis Tower's Wacker Drive lobby, featuring a new, one-of-a-kind art installation created by distinguished artist Jacob Hashimoto. The lobby has been transformed into an open, light-filled entryway as part of Willis Tower's more than $500 million renovation project, the biggest restorative transformation in the building's 46-year history. While the lobby was closed for the past year during construction, it is now open and accessible to the public and building tenants.

The focal point of the new lobby is "In the Heart of this Infinite Particle of Galactic Dust, 2019," a Hashimoto sculpture featuring a nearly 16-foot tall and 42-foot wide cloud built from nearly 7,000, nine-inch individual kite-like disks. The disks are strategically positioned to create the effect of a cloud-like, faceted mass. The kites appear to be undulating throughout the space by using varying lengths of string, and the graphics are printed on paper that is embedded into resin to create a stained glass-like disc that allows light to permeate.

"Office lobbies have historically been simply transitional spaces, and as tenant desires for workspaces have evolved, the purpose of the lobby has evolved as well," said David Moore, Senior Vice President, Portfolio Director at EQ Office. "We are transforming the Willis Tower lobbies to be interactive, energized spaces that inspire curiosity for tenants and set the tone for the rest of the workplace experience. The dramatic work of art from Jacob Hashimoto will be a treasure for our building, a celebration of the City, and an embrace of the new neighborhood we've built at the Tower."

EQ Office handpicked Hashimoto for this endeavor because he excels at creating works that connect with audiences and he has Chicago roots, having studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was during this time that Hashimoto developed a deep admiration for Chicago's art and architecture, which made him the perfect person for the Willis Tower project. Hashimoto has been featured in solo museum exhibitions at MOCA Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, MACRO - Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice, LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Schauwerk Sindlefingen in Germany, among several others.

For the Willis Tower project, Hashimoto and his team created 3D models of the space and the art. Though technology played an integral role in the development of the piece, it was ultimately shaped by human experience in the final phase of installation. "In the Heart of this Infinite Particle of Galactic Dust, 2019" was intentionally designed to resonate with Willis Tower's vast audience, as Hashimoto's vision was to create a surprising experience for those seeing it for the first time. Regular lobby patrons, including the more than 15,000 building tenants, will constantly discover new facets of the piece with its rich texture, nuance and complexity.

"Willis Tower symbolizes the spirit of Chicago, and when the EQ Office team asked me to design a piece for the lobby, I was honored to play a role in the Tower's transformation," said artist Jacob Hashimoto. "This was both a thrilling and challenging installation because I wanted to create a piece that speaks to the people who work in Willis Tower, as well as the countless people who visit this landmark every day."

As Willis Tower undergoes its transformation, EQ is dedicated to creating workspaces that inspire and engage tenants. Earlier this year, the building launched Art of the Neighborhood, a dynamic arts initiative that draws inspiration from Chicago's creative energy to foster ongoing art programming throughout Willis Tower for tenants and visitors, and the unveiling of "In the Heart of this Infinite Particle of Galactic Dust, 2019" marks another milestone for the Tower's art program. EQ worked with CNL Projects to commission the piece.

"In the Heart of this Infinite Particle of Galactic Dust, 2019" will be permanently on display in Willis Tower's Wacker Drive lobby and is open to the public.

With the Wacker Drive Lobby opening, the Adams Street lobby will be closing for redevelopment. The Franklin Street lobby will remain open. You can follow along with the construction updates at Willis Tower here.

About EQ Office 

At EQ Office, we partner with business leaders to find, design and manage balanced workspaces with the intention of helping to inspire talent. What began as Equity Office Properties more than 40 years ago, EQ has evolved to reflect a new kind of emotional intelligence required for the rapidly shifting workplace. EQ focuses on the experience of its 30 million square feet - how space feels, activates and performs. We're proud to work hand-in-hand with more than 2200 customers of all sizes, from Fortune 100 companies to emerging startups, to bring humanity back to the work place. Our diverse team of 200+ professionals is responsible for creating inspired office environments in major cities across the country including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. As a U.S. office portfolio company wholly owned by Blackstone's real estate funds, we have the resources to lead the changes happening in work space. Explore your space for greatness at www.eqoffice.com.

About Willis Tower 

Located at 233 S. Wacker Drive in the heart of downtown Chicago, Willis Tower is an urban destination and state-of-the art workplace that welcomes prominent businesses ranging from law firms to large airline corporations to insurance companies. Standing 1,450 feet and 110 stories tall, Willis Tower has the region's most breathtaking views of Chicago and Lake Michigan. Willis Tower's Skydeck attracts more than 1.7 million visitors each year with its inviting hospitality and memorable experiences, all under one roof. In early 2017, Blackstone and EQ announced plans for the biggest restorative transformation project in the building's 46-year history. The $500 million renovation project now underway will add more than 300,000 square feet of new retail, dining and entertainment space at the base of the tower, 150,000 square feet of new tenant amenity spaces, and a 30,000 square-foot outdoor deck and garden. As part of the renovation, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded Willis Tower the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for energy efficiency upgrades made throughout the Tower. Willis Tower was also recently named to the Illinois Council of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Illinois' 200 Great Places list. For more information, visit www.WillisTower.com and connect on Facebook and Instagram.

About Jacob Hashimoto 

Using sculpture, painting, and installation, Jacob Hashimoto creates complex worlds from a range of modular components: bamboo-and-paper kites, model boats, even astroturf-covered blocks. His accretive, layered compositions reference video games, virtual environments, and cosmology, while also remaining deeply rooted in art-historical traditions notably, landscape-based abstraction, modernism, and handcraft. Jacob Hashimoto was born in Greeley, Colorado in 1973 and is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He lives and works in Ossining, New York. Hashimoto has been featured in solo museum exhibitions at MOCA Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, MACRO - Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice, LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Schauwerk Sindlefingen in Germany, and the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art in Finland. He has also had solo shows at Mary Boone Gallery in New York, Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago, Studio la Città in Verona, Galerie Forsblomin Helsinki, Anglim Gilbert Gallery in San Francisco, and Leila Heller Gallery in Dubai, among others. His work is in the collections of LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art, EMMA - Saastamoinen Foundation, Schauwerk Sindelfingen, The California Endowment, and numerous other public collections.