New Screen Lights Up Water Tower Place


Water Tower Place.  Photograph courtesy of Daktronics.

Water Tower Place. Photograph courtesy of Daktronics.

Let’s face it — the entrances to the Water Tower Place shopping mall (845 North Michigan Avenue) are awkward.  General Growth Properties has done what it can with them, but whether you’re coming in from Michigan Avenue or from the de facto smoking lounge by the theater, navigation is hard.

Fortunately, great lengths have been gone to in order to make the experience at least visually stimulating.  And the latest addition to that effort is a massive LED screen hanging over the western escalators. Now instead of staring at the rows of little fountains popping tiny squirts of water in the air, you can stare at a 117-square-foot double-sided, animated, illuminated, digitated sign (resolution: 816×544).

The people who made the sign, Daktronics in South Dakota, tipped us off about it.  You can read the press release below.

Chicago’s Water Tower Place Installs Daktronics Large-Format Indoor LED Banner

BROOKINGS, S.D. – July 22, 2013 – Chicago’s Water Tower Place recently purchased and installed a large-format vertical LED video banner directly inside its Michigan Avenue entrance. Designed and manufactured by Daktronics Inc. of Brookings, S.D., the iconic Magnificent Mile center’s new, double-sided LED display measures 8-feet wide by 12-feet high, features high-resolution 4-mm pixel spacing and is audio capable.

The LED banner promotes Water Tower Place special events and promotions, along with retailers and restaurants in the eight-story vertical shopping center, while also keeping spots available for purchase to outside advertisers. Katie Lindsay, marketing manager for Water Tower Place, recently commented on how the new display will heighten the shopping experience:

“This digital sign adds a new dynamic to our marketing and advertising capabilities and showcases our wide range of shopping, dining and entertainment options in an entirely new way,” said Lindsay. “Using the latest technologies – like the digital queuing system we offered shoppers visiting Santa during the holidays – has allowed us to enhance shoppers’ overall experience at Water Tower Place.”

General Growth Properties (GGP), owner and manager of Water Tower Place, operate high-quality retail properties throughout the United States. Four other GGP shopping centers feature similar Daktronics LED screens: Bridgewater Commons in Bridgewater, N.J.; Cumberland Mall in Atlanta, Ga.; Northridge Fashion Center in San Fernando Valley, Calif.; and Stonebriar Centre Mall in Dallas, Texas. In addition, GGP plans to install other large format LED displays at other U.S.-based shopping center locations for this fall 2013.

Daktronics LED video banner solutions are designed specifically for the indoor shopping center environment. Its high-efficiency design allows the screen to overcome harsh interior lighting conditions without pushing electrical components to their limits – saving energy, increasing reliability and extending lifetime.

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Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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  1. yeah, because I’d much rather look at an ad screen than admire the gorgeous granite and the water features.

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  2. Certainly the resolution of this is not 816×544. That’s not even one mega-pixel. That’s 0.4 megapixels.

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    • Editor

      The resolution is correct. Since you’re not putting your face right up to them like you would with a computer or phone screen, large signs very often have very low resolutions. It makes them cheaper, and your eye fills in the blanks.

      While a current iPhone has a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, “high resolution” for a large outdoor sign is generally 236 pixels per FOOT. The Jumbotron at the old Tampa Stadium was 30 feet wide, and only had a resolution of 240×192.

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  3. “the entrances are awkward” – hilarious

    yes of course! its SO difficult to find those glass doors!
    where oh where do I go? OMG its so confusing..

    “The LED banner promotes Water Tower Place … promotions… while also keeping spots available for purchase to outside advertisers”. — oh joy! outside advertisers! what an amenity!

    “Katie Lindsay… commented on how the new display will heighten the shopping experience” — “heighten” ?
    wow. what nonsense

    ““This digital sign adds a new dynamic (and) has allowed us to enhance shoppers’ overall experience at Water Tower Place.”

    Look sweetheart billboards suck. and LED billboards suck even harder. This is a HORRIBLE IDEA. It ONLY benefits GGP ($$$) and does NOTHING for your guests. NOTHINGG

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    • Editor

      I’m not a big fan of billboards in any form, but remember, it is a shopping mall. And the sign is inside, not outside. There is no more appropriate venue for an advertisement. It’s not like people go to Water Tower Place to meditate.

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