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Squint/Opera brings immersive media to redeveloped Skydeck Chicago

All-new interactive experience showcases the personality and history of Chicago

Architecture exhibit Skydeck Chicago Squint:Opera

Squint/Opera, the creative studio, has worked on a range of immersive media as part of the transformation of Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower, the highest observation deck in the US. Following extensive redevelopment, the attraction reopens on 23 April.

Squint/Opera was the digital media partner for the project, working alongside exhibition designers Thinc and sound designers Coda to Coda.

A new perspective on Chicago

Skydeck Chicago allows visitors to see the whole city from a unique vantage point. The transformation project includes the lower level as well as the 103rd floor, bringing an all-new interactive experience that showcases the personality and history of Chicago. After exploring the museum on the lower level, visitors can travel up to the 103rd floor and dare to experience The Ledge; four glass floor balconies that extend outwards from the tower.

Architecture exhibit Skydeck Chicago Squint Opera
Image credit Andy Fritsch

“The new exhibition, designed by Thinc, gives visitors a unique take on the best of the city,
from the street to the Skydeck. The exhibition’s media celebrates Chicago’s diverse cultural
composition, with stylish, engaging content that inspires each guest onward in their journey,” says Ben Townsend, Squint/Opera Director.

“The digital media enhances the experience through a variety of forms, ranging from soundscapes to large-scale immersive media experiences. These installations create memorable moments with a variety of entry points for visitors into Chicago’s vibrant culture.”

Digital media highlights

On the lower level, Squint/Opera worked on an Architecture section, which features a CGI tour of the city and its iconic skyline, finishing at the Willis Tower. Here, visitors can also pose by the floor-to-ceiling Tower antennas for a top social media picture. The company used motion graphic animation, 3D animation, 3D models and VFX to create this immersive, large scale media experience.

The studio also worked on the museum’s hyper-real train trip which takes guests on an L train journey of the city’s neighbourhoods, allowing them to find out more about eight key Chicago locations.

Finally, visitors can enjoy the Urban Playground, which showcases the geography of the city across a curved projection surface, as they prepare for their elevator ride up to the Skydeck itself.

Urban Playground Exhibit Skydeck Chicago Squint Opera
Image credit Andy Fritsch

On the 103rd floor, Squint/Opera created Unseen Chicago, a large six-screen array showing a detailed map of Chicago, augmented with animated layers of data. The company also worked on The Making of the Ledge, where the story of the Ledge, and its design, reception and key features, is brought to life with motion graphic animation.

“A visit to Skydeck Chicago has always been about the exhilaration of seeing the city from a new perspective,” says Randy Stancik, General Manager at Skydeck Chicago. “With the reimagined attraction, we wanted to take that experience a step further. The new Skydeck tells the story of Chicago—from the Great Chicago Fire to iconic city legends—and allows visitors to actively engage with our beloved home in a way that is wholly their own.

“From interactive and educational installations to fun, photo-worthy moments, guests of all ages, backgrounds and geographic locations will leave with a newfound connection to Chicago and the incredible memories of our unparalleled views.”

Last year, Squint/Opera also created immersive digital media for the new Power of Science exhibition at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami.

Header image credit Andy Fritsch

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charlotte coates

Charlotte Coates

Charlotte Coates is blooloop's editor. She is from Brighton, UK and previously worked as a librarian. She has a strong interest in arts, culture and information and graduated from the University of Sussex with a degree in English Literature. Charlotte can usually be found either with her head in a book or planning her next travel adventure.

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