Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois

In 1999, Millennium Park officials and a group of art collectors, architects and curators viewed sculpture proposals from several different artists. The committee approved a proposal submitted by international artist Anish Kapoor. According to plans submitted by Kapoor, the structure is expected to survive for 1,000 years.

Cloud Gate is a sculpture designed by British artist Anish Kappor, located in AT & T Plaza of Millennium Park within the Loop Neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois. Constructed between 2004 and 2006, the sculpture was unveiled during the summer of 2004. Because it has a legume-like shape, the sculpture has been nicknamed "The Bean.''

The exterior of the structure is constructed of 168 highly polished stainless steel plates, stands 33 feet long, 66 feet by 42 feet and weighs 110 short tons. Costs of construction for the structure were first estimated to be around $6.1 million, however, by the time the park opened in 2004, the cost had increased to $11.5 million, and the final figure was $23 million.

Cloud Gate was fully erected and opened to the public on July 15th, 2004, but was unfinished and unpolished because construction had fallen behind schedule. The structure was temporarily uncovered for the opening, but Kapoor was not happy because the public had seen the sculpture in an unfinished state. A 24-crew from Ironworkers Local 36 polished the seams between each plate in January, 2005, and construction of the sculpture was officially complete on August 28th, 2005.

On May 15th, 2006 the sculpture was unveiled to the public for the first time and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley declared the day of the dedication to be "Cloud Gate Day''. Kapoor was in attendance, and Obert Davis played "Fanfare for Cloud Gate'', which he specially composed for the occasion. Cloud Gate is the piece of artwork by which Kapoor is most commonly identified.

Cloud Gate has become world famous and was inspired by liquid mercury; the exterior reflects the skyline of Chicago. Visitors are welcome to walk around and underneath the arch of Cloud Gate, which is 12 feet high. Underneath the sculpture is the omphalos, a concave chamber which warps and multiplies reflections. Building upon many of Kapoor's themes, many visitors view the sculpture and think of it as a unique photo-taking opportunity.

Twice a day, the lower 6 feet of the sculpture is wiped down by hand. The entire sculpture is completely cleaned twice a year with 40-gallons of liquid detergent and daily cleanings use a Windex-like cleaner, while the twice yearly cleanings are done using Tide detergent.

Cloud Gate has become a tourist magnet and is now a common fixture on postcards, sweatshirts and posters. In 2004, Cloud Gate was instrumental in getting Millennium Park named one of the top ten architectural achievements by Time magazine.

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