The Bean Is Back: Grainger Plaza Reopens With Enhanced Features

The recent development of Grainger Plaza, surrounding the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago's Millennium Park, marks a significant enhancement for the area
Grainger Plaza Reopens
Grainger Plaza ReopensCity of Chicago/X

The Grainger Plaza in Chicago, the area around the famous "Cloud Gate" sculpture in Millennium Park, is now open to the public after extensive construction. This project began in August 2023 and was overseen by the Chicago Department of Fleet and Facility Management (2FM). The updates included rebuilding the plaza's podium with new stairs, accessible ramps, new pavers, a waterproofing system, and other accessibility improvements. While some landscaping work is still in progress, it does not affect access to Cloud Gate.

Cloud Gate, commonly known as "The Bean," is a beloved Chicago landmark created by artist Anish Kapoor. This unique sculpture is made from 168 large stainless-steel plates, precisely cut using computer technology and then welded together. The result is a smooth, mirror-like surface that reflects the park's activities and the city skyline. The central arch of the sculpture, which stands 12 feet high, leads to a concave chamber underneath, giving it the name Cloud Gate.

The sculpture's structure is supported by two large rings and a truss system that distributes its weight to two points at the base. Flexible connectors attach the stainless-steel skin to this internal structure, allowing it to expand and contract with Chicago's extreme weather. This design ensures the sculpture remains stable and durable.

Cloud Gate was funded entirely by the Millennium Park Foundation through donations from private individuals, showcasing strong community support for public art. Inspired by liquid mercury, it is one of the world's largest permanent outdoor art installations. Its reflective surface invites visitors to touch and interact with it, offering a unique way to see themselves and their surroundings from different angles.

The recent renovations to Grainger Plaza have enhanced its look and accessibility, ensuring Millennium Park stays a top attraction in the Midwest. These upgrades have improved the visitor experience, allowing everyone to enjoy Cloud Gate and the newly revitalised plaza.

(With inputs from official websites)

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