Museums | Exhibits |

Chicago Model City

Chicago Architecture Foundation | Chicago Architecture Foundation, Chicago, IL | 2009

The Chicago Model City, a five-month exhibit created by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, is a scaled-to-size model of Chicago's downtown, designed to provoke thought about how cities develop and the future of metropolitan regions around the world.

What It Was

The Chicago Model City, a five-month exhibit created by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, is a scaled-to-size model of Chicago's downtown, designed to provoke thought about how cities develop and the future of metropolitan regions around the world. With a focus toward current planning efforts and highlighting issues such as population density and the conservation of natural resources, the Chicago Model City exhibit replicates not only architecture, but also simulates the light of the summer solstice, June 21, 2009 (the longest day of the year), every 15 minutes. Energy conservation is an important element of the exhibit and in concert with the "green" emphasis Lightswitch Architectural incorporates into every project. The exhibit was on display in the entry atrium of the Chicago Architecture Foundation located in the Santa Fe Building at 224 S. Michigan Avenue. The exhibit was free and open daily through November 20, 2009.

What We Did

Lightswitch Architectural researched the position of the sun during the summer solstice in order to accurately represent its positioning throughout the longest day of the year; to recreate the lighting, shadows and highlights as accurately as possible. The newest advances in energy-efficient lighting technology, such as color-changing & white light LED luminaires, were used to dial in the color of sunlight to replicate daylight progression. Fixtures that produce no UV or IR were incorporated and will help make the model last for years. The lighting was designed to be enduring, providing accurate lighting representation for future planners should updates or additions be made to structures and related areas.

Why It Worked

The true daylight effect that was achieved replicates the many shades of "white" daylight that the human eye views throughout the day and the correct angle of light the sun produced on the 2009 summer solstice. The hues of natural sunlight are successfully simulated - from the early morning sunrise to evening sunset. Only 2600W of energy are consumed by the Chicago Model City LED lighting system and its special programming. Energy usage is 80% lower than a more traditional exhibit lighting system using incandescent lighting sources and large dimming systems.