ESI Designs Smart LED Chandelier for PNC Plaza in Pittsburgh

Created by pioneering experience design firm ESI Design for The PNC Financial Services Group, The Beacon, a first-of-its-kind, data-driven media installation located in The Tower at PNC Plaza, pulses with shifting light, color, and sound patterns to express energy and water consumption, water recycling, sun exposure, natural ventilation, waste, composting, use of artificial light, and other building indicators.

Believed to be the world’s greenest skyrise, the new corporate headquarters incorporates ground-breaking green technology and design strategies, which led to LEED Platinum certification, the U.S. Green Building Council's highest rating.

The Beacon at The Tower at PNC Plaza. (Photo courtesy of Andy Ryan)

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

To encourage the public’s engagement with The Beacon, ESI Design created a website ( accessible on any digital device, including tablets 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 Gideon D’Arcangelo, VP of Creative Strategy for ESI Design, 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, composting, and more.

“Our goal in designing The Beacon for The Tower at PNC Plaza was to transform the way people experience the building—and communicate the many invisible things the building is doing, behind the scenes, to maximize 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.”

For The Beacon at The Tower at PNC Plaza project, ESI Design deployed the same design philosophy the ESI Design team 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 design expertise in a variety of specialized disciplines, including interactive, visual, and website design.

Key members of the project team for The Tower at PNC Plaza include Pittsburgh-based PJ Dick, Inc.; global design firm Gensler; UK-based engineering firm Buro Happold; and Seattle-based environmental consultant Paladino & Company.

A fact sheet and media resources regarding The Beacon are available upon request.

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