The most eye-catching building on the Denver skyline, the Wells Fargo Center, has become even more distinct, thanks to a stunning makeover by the Manhattan-based experiential design firm ESI Design. The three-year project, featuring an eight-story digital LED installation in the building’s glass atrium, opens this month.

The Wells Fargo Center, designed by Philip Johnson in 1983, is known as the “Cash Register Building” because of its unique shape that resembles an antique cash register. Inside the building’s immense street-level glass atrium, which echoes the cash register shape of the roof, ESI designed five 86-foot floor-to-ceiling LED columns that are six times the resolution of normal HD. The monolithic screens display dynamic media inspired by the Mile High City’s natural wonders.

ESI’s team of media designers and animators conceived the inventive content to fully exploit the epic physical scale of the space. The mix of pre-produced and generative media includes:

• A flock of birds that are animated in real-time (as opposed to a video file). A total of 3,600 birds are always deciding what to do next, at 60fps, based on algorithmic rules of behavior. They can fly for hours and their flight pattern never repeats.

• Floor-to-ceiling waterfalls built in 3D, containing 15 million polygons each that have variations of speed and volume and move across the wall in different paths depending on the direction of the wind outside.

• A grove of trees—modeled, textured, and animated individually in 3D—change with the time of day and season, such as a change in color in the fall and the loss of leaves in the winter.
• Colorful ink drops swirling in slow-motion using video footage of a tiny plastic fish tank, filmed in a studio in Hoboken.

• Colorado mountainscapes that are actually mosaics of thousands of Instagram photos, drawn from an ever-growing library of local, user-generated images. Each Instagram show is built up of 8 different mosaics (each with a different tile size and containing thousands of images). From a distance, the effect for the viewer is like looking through slats in an enormous fence to the majestic Colorado landscape beyond the skyscraper’s walls.

The vibrant media installation is visible from outside through the glass atrium, breathing new life into the surrounding streetscape and drawing passersby into an experience that promises to become a new Denver attraction for tourists and locals alike.

Check it out here:

Wells Fargo Center, Denver, by ESI Design from ESI Design on Vimeo.