221 Main Street Digital Facade

Entry Statement

ESI Design creates a digital streetfront experience in an evolving San Francisco technology hub.

Thanks to an influx of new technology companies along the Spear Street Corridor in San Francisco, the neighborhood around 221 Main Street is rapidly evolving into a technology hub. Owner Beacon Capital Partners saw the chance to position the building as an anchor for the growing area, and decided to update the building’s façade to create a distinctive visual landmark in sync with the new-tech vibe.

ESI Design activated the building with a 126-foot-long by 25-foot-wide digital display that stretches 125 feet, from the façade to the interior lobby. An original media program features Northern California themes of redwoods, beaches, waterfalls, and poppies, and was designed to be viewed from many vantage points, from the street into the high-definition lobby.

Three different levels of LED resolution allow the multiple viewpoints. At streetfront, 10mm LED panels display the content in high resolution, while the exterior entryway ceiling is a low-res (124mm) display for an ambient colorscape that responds to local weather patterns. Inside the lobby, high-res 5mm panels display the colorful imagery along with local and regional weather data at a human scale. Etched diffusion glass mounted over the LEDs spreads the light across the entire surface, creating a seamless effect.

The entire display is a medium for content, a lighting surface, and an architectural enhancement to the building. An address that lacked a distinguishing visual trait now has a distinct, artful, and content-rich presence that speaks to the dynamic nature of the neighborhood.


Client:  Beacon Capital Partners
Location:  San Francisco
Design:  ESI Design
Architects:  NicholsBooth
Landscape Architects:  Martha Fry Landscape Architects
Systems Integration:  VER
Programming:  AV&C
Photos:  Courtesy ESI Design

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