Experimental, interactive installation in an historic Louis Sullivan building on Chicago's famed State Street, designed to gather demographic data while engaging visitors.

A website powered with Google Map's API was paired with a physical installation located at the start of the Chicago grid numbering system, allowing visitors to calculate how many Chicago-style blocks they were from home and to share personal stories about how they got to 0,0. 

“There is no object more deeply mysterious, no object more pregnant with suggestion, more insidiously sinister, in short more truly dazzling than a window lit up from within by even a single candle. What we can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what we can perceive taking place behind a pane of window-glass.”



Selecting landmarks, for orienting ones self while navigating the city, is often tied to personal stories and experiences.

User-centered research methodologies, including in-context street intercepts, and one-on-one interviews uncovered aspects of significance of place that were utilized to develop a concept of "re-centering". Prototyping, ranging from low-fidelity to high-resolution, occurred through all phases of the project. The digital and physical components of the design were tested with paper wireframes, scaled models, conceptual renderings, behavioral prototypes and "Wizard of Oz" scenarios.


Once the busiest intersection in the world, the corner of State and Madison marks the 0,0 point of the Chicago grid. 

The heritage of this location was leveraged to launch a experiential prototype for the Chicago Loop Alliance to test how visitors would share their demographic data. A steel construct, inspired by the landmarked Louis Sullivan facade, was placed in front of a large-scale backdrop and classic window signage invited passersby to find out more about the significance of the site. A backdrop was specially created for this project by graphic artist Jenny Beorkrem, who is globally recognized for developing the typographic city neighborhood map. 


Emotionally connecting visitors to the intersection of State & Madison

The Block Counter on tabulated the distance that visitors were from a personal, significant address in the form of Chicago-style blocks. It did this while informing them that they were at the starting point of the Chicago grid numbering system, placing their personal story in relationship to the historic background of the physical location. Integrated with Twitter, Facebook and linked with Google Map’s API, visitors could capture a Street View image their significant place and share a personal story about it and their journey to 0,0. 



Installation Design and UX Design: Brian Strawn, Joe Shields, Eugene Limb, Sally Wong and Elise Metzger

Metal Fabrication: McKinley Designs

Map Graphics: Jenny Beorkrem of Ork Posters

Website Development: Taylor Host

Chicago Loop Alliance: Ty Tabing (Executive Director) and Laura Jones (Associate Director)