Terrell Place 2016, United States of America, Washington, D.C.

Walls That Move With You: Washington, D.C.’s Terrell Place has 1,700-square-feet of Motion-Activated LED Displays That Respond to Your Presence

Terrell Place, an office building and civil rights landmark in downtown Washington, DC, has been transformed into a contemporary, exciting work destination by ESI Design. By seamlessly integrating the building’s common areas with 1,700-square-feet of motion-activated LED displays walls of ever-evolving responsive artwork create a sense of place. The installation is one of the largest of its kind in the nation, and quickly became an Internet sensation with 75+ million impressions. The media architecture piece provides a cutting-edge experience and sense of connection, while also honoring the site’s past.

When Beacon Capital Partners acquired Terrell Place, they tasked ESI Design with creating a more harmonious interior and a contemporary, exciting work destination. To create a strong sense of connection across two reception areas and their connecting hallway, the space was treated as a single media canvas. We seamlessly integrated 1,700sq. ft. of motion-activated LED displays into the architectural surfaces, creating an ever-evolving artwork that creates a sense of place and reacts to the presence of people. Activated by infrared sensor technology, the screens respond to the motion of people walking by or standing still, creating scenes that ebb and flow with the morning rush and the afternoon lull. Three beautiful, custom content modes - ‘Seasons,’ ‘Color Play,’ and ‘City Scape’ - play with varying durations and sequences, ensuring that visitors never see the same scene twice. At 80 feet wide x 13 feet high, the largest media wall is capturing the attention and curiosity of passersby, who can see it through the oversize windows that were once the display windows of Hecht’s department store where civil rights activist Mary Church Terrell (who the building is named after) once led a protest against segregation. Lighting, sound and media were designed to deliver a cohesive multi-modal experience. Some lights change color temperature according to the media that is playing. The environment is enhanced by ambient sounds emerging from invisible speakers in the walls and ceiling creating a fully immersive experience. The project gave our client Beacon Capital Partners global reach and credibility for creating innovative, modern, and enticing work environments. In its first month after launch, Terrell Place became an Internet sensation with 75+ million views, and a must-see destination for locals and tourists.






Building or project owner : Beacon Capital Partners

Architecture : Gensler

Project artist/ concept/ design/ planning : ESI Design

Structural engineering : Advance Structural Concept, LLC

Facade design : ESI Design

Facade construction : Art Display Co.

Light design : ESI Design

Technical layout light : ESI Design, Diversified Systems

Display content/ visuals/ showreel : ESI Design

Light hardware (LED hardware) : VER

Lighting control software : ESI Design, AV&C

Project co-ordination : ESI Design

Membrane skin : Cinematic Interiors (Gerriets Frost Diffusion Material)

Interaction design/ programming : ESI Design, AV&C, Sound Design & Production by 30/70 Productions Ltd.

Project sponsor/ support : Beacon Capital Partners


Facade type and geometry (structure) : Rectangular, integrated into lobby walls

Kind of light creation : RGB LED Tile

Resolution and transmitting behaviour : Diffused: Gerriets Frost Diffusion Material

Pixel distance : 5.7mm

Urban situation : Commercial office building on a busy street in Washington, D.C.

Description of showreel : ‘Season’ mode shows the lifecycle of the iconic DC cherry trees, from spring blossoms to snow-covered branches. ‘Color Play’ shows algorithmically-generated patterns of multi-color threads, weaving a tapestry that reflects the building activity. ‘City Scape’ pays homage to the city with iconic architecture, statuary and transportation scenes that are brought to life by people passing by.

Participatory architecture & urban interaction


Photo Credit: Caleb Tkach

Photo Credit: Caleb Tkach

Photo Credit: Caleb Tkach

Photo Credit: Caleb Tkach

Video Credit: Caleb Tkach, Jeff Wolfram and Erik Stenbakken