200 west Madison
5000 SQUARE FEET
200 West Madison Street is a highly visible class-A office building in the Loop of downtown Chicago. Fyoog was hired to refresh and enhance the lobby in spring 2015 as part of a continuing effort to create a unique lobby experience that began in 2006 with the enclosure of the exterior front plaza in a new glass winter garden featuring the signature piece, Dawn Shadows, a sculpture by artist Louise Nevelson.
Our initial challenge was finding a way to amplify the lobby’s presence and value while incorporating Nevelson’s eye-catching sculpture without diminishing its impact. Rather than suggesting major architectural modifications, we began to envision the space less as a commercial office lobby and more as a museum lobby or cultural public space. This new mindset suggested the addition of new large-scaled permanent pieces as a complement to Dawn Shadows. To enhance the artworks and create dramatic effects for building occupants and visitors, we borrowed lighting strategies widely used in theaters and museums. We turned to the four classical elements of fire, air, water, and earth to create a dialogue and coherence between the existing and new artworks. Dawn Shadows, made from heat-forged steel with its varied angles and dark metallic form, became fire.
Fyoog led the creation of the water, earth, and air elemental sculptures. Water was introduced as an enormous self-watering living wall, laden with a tapestry of colorful living plants. The design of this artwork, in collaboration with landscaping experts, is an organic, three-dimensional painting of rich colors and textures. It’s a celebration of life, the most visual and wholly dependent result of water.
Our signature piece, Hypnotic Fields, represents earth and is made of reclaimed wooden beams drawn into form by a childhood dream of passing through the vast Midwest countryside. The design carved into the wood is inspired by the mesmerizing fields of endless crops and shifting patterns from changing vantage points. Just as a perspectival change can alter the formless mass of passing crops into a coherent form, moving closer to inspect Hypnotic Fields reveals its hidden structure and deep organization. Earth provides a backdrop for a cloud of free-flowing metal and fabric kites, representations of the kinetic qualities of air.
Today, the four elemental sculptures at 200 West Madison encourage all to contemplate the fundamental questions that fueled the thinking and dialogue of ancient philosophers for ages—a fitting experience for such a pivotal building.