PNC Bank World Headquarters: an ambient sonic information environment.

Bruce Odland created a sonic language to communicate the inner workings of a smart building to its inhabitants and visitors. The design goal was to engage the building’s users with an ambient information environment that encouraged them to participate in a greener more sustainable future. He created interactive ambient sound fields for each of the building’s systems, as part of a team of designers at ESI Design

The Tower at PNC Plaza was designed to be the greenest office tower in the world. Yet none of the wonders of this LEED Platinum building were going to be visible to its occupants or passersby on the surrounding Pittsburgh streets. PNC looked to ESI Design to change that.

ESI designed The Beacon, a data, light and sound media installation that soars more than 24-feet through the atrium lobby, with each of its 32 levels representing a floor of the tower.

A 6 channel audio system added ambient audio information to the video installation.

The Beacon interprets data from the building’s advanced green systems and the external environment. Then, using 1,584 liquid-crystal polycarbonate panels, each backed with a grid of low-resolution LEDs, it translates this data into ever-changing patterns of light, color and sound.

The Tower at PNC Plaza has such advanced and responsive sustainable systems that it behaves in many ways like a living organism. The building “breathes” in fresh air to ventilate and adjust temperature, reduces the use of artificial light when natural sunlight is plentiful, reuses water, measures recycling, and more.

The installation inspires visitors and tenants to learn about how the building works. To aid their curiosity, ESI created a website, accessible from tablets in the lobby or any connected device or computer, that explains what The Beacon’s colorful light visualizations signify.

Melding artful expression, leading technologies and communications design, the Beacon has become an iconic presence in the Pittsburg landscape.