Enter The Bean: Chicago
This is another look at “The Bean” but from a different perspective! On the underside of the sculpture is the omphalos, an indentation whose mirrored surface provides multiple reflections of any subject situated beneath it. The apex of the omphalos is 27 feet (8.2 m) above the ground. The concave underside allows visitors to walk underneath to see the omphalos, and through its arch to the other side so that they view the entire structure. During the grand opening week in July 2004, press reports described the omphalos as the “spoon-like underbelly”.
The stainless steel sculpture was originally envisioned as the centerpiece of the Lurie Garden at the southeast corner of the park. However, Park officials believed the piece was too large for the Lurie Garden and decided to locate it at Millenium Park, despite Kapoor’s objections. Skyscrapers to the north along East Randolph St, including The Heritage, the Smurfit-Stone Building, Two Prudential Plaza, One Prudential Plaza, and Aon Center are visible, reflected on both the east and west sides of the The Bean.
Although Kapoor does not draw with computers, computer modeling was essential to the process of analyzing the complex form, which created numerous issues. Being outside, concerns arose that it might retain and conduct heat in a way that would make it too hot to touch during the summer and so cold that one’s tongue might stick to it during the winter. The extreme temperature variation between seasons was also feared to weaken the structure. Graffiti, bird droppings and fingerprints were also potential problems, as they would affect the aesthetics of the surface. The most pressing issue was the need to create a single seamless exterior for the external shell, a feat architect Norman Foster once believed to be nearly impossible.