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The side of Merchandise Mart will host 25-story video projections later this year

Zach Long
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Zach Long
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One of Chicago's most prominent riverside buildings will get a Blade Runner-esque makeover later this year, as moving images become a part of its facade. Over the weekend, the city offered additional details about a previously announced art installation that will illuminate the south side of Merchandise Mart with 25-story video projections.

Called "Art on theMart," the permanent installation was developed by Obscura Digital, which has facilitated similar large-scale projections on the Empire State Building, Sydney Opera House and the Vatican. An array of projectors will be used to cover the side of Merchandise Mart with moving images, and the projections will change on a regular basis. According to a release, the project "marks the first time a projection of its size and scope will be completely dedicated to art projection with no branding, sponsorship credits, or messaging allowed."

Merchandise Mart Chief Operating Officer Myron Maurer told the Chicago Tribune that the project will cost $8 million to install and $500,000 to operate each year, with displays that "could run for two hours a night, maybe five nights a week and 10 months out of the year."

"Art on theMart" is expected to light up in fall 2018 and will enter a 30-year agreement to project images on the art deco building once its plans are approved by City Council. While Chicago's beautiful architecture is already reason enough to spend an evening on the Riverwalk or aboard a boat, the projections are sure to draw even more onlookers to the riverfront each evening.

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