The Art Institute of Chicago - Modern Wing

Location: Chicago, IL 

Architect: Renzo Piano and Interactive Design | Chicago, IL

General Contractor: Turner Construction

Installer: E&K Companies


  • Custom translucent fabric ceiling
  • Acoustic ceilings and walls
The Art Institute of Chicago, founded in 1879 and located in Chicago's Grant Park, is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. In 2008, the new Modern Wing and Terzo Piano Restaurant were added, and together they feature 264,000 sq. ft. of LEED Certified, Translucent, White and Walnut interior panels supplied by Hughes Group.

Translucent ceilings were installed in the art galleries, allowing a glass roof to pass light though several levels of UV protection—including the inside layer of fabric ceiling, which was specifically designed for this project. The Quadrillo acoustical wood ceilings were installed in the shops and classrooms for the Museum. White Ceilencio/Claro acoustical ceilings were also installed in the four-star Terzo Piano, a gourmet restaurant on the east wing of the building.

Renzo Piano had a concept for the ceilings, and the architect—Interactive Design—previously worked with Hughes Group on several high-end projects and knew they could solve the design problem. The major obstacle was creating a large-scale translucent ceiling with UV degradation aspects, fully accessible openings, and a thin-profile grid to eliminate shadowing on the artwork below. Hughes Group was noted for their ability to step out-of-the-box and collaborate with the contractors, and architects, to supply usable and affordable ceiling systems.

Centerline Fabrication

Centerline collaborated diligently with the manufacturer to develop a unique ceiling product, working closely with Turner Construction and Airtite installers to stage the project and deliver product to the site as required. Centerline coordinated the use of glass rods to keep the oversized panels from gusseting and eliminate a shadow from the ceiling.

Hughes Group convinced the manufacturer to move forward with a product they had not previously produced. Additionally, they brainstormed with the architects, who envisioned certain qualities needed for the art spaces: UV-protection, sun shading, elimination of shadows from the ceiling system, and accessibility of ultra large ceiling panels. They partnered the main ceiling with an acoustical wood and very white shade, both of which were required.