The Amazing Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate

Among the many reasons why a visit to Chicago is an unforgettable experience is the amazing Cloud Gate. Located between McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink and the Chase Promenade, and on top of Park Grill together with AT&T Plaza, it is also referred to by the locals as “The Bean”. This sculpture is popularly called by this name because it has been constructed in a bean-shaped form.

Designed and constructed by Anish Kapoor, a Briton of Indian descent, this public sculpture is a crowd pulling and extraordinary piece of art in the Millennium Park, on the Loop community region of Chicago, the State of Illinois in the United States of America.

Construction and Characteristics of Cloud Gate

The construction of Cloud Gate started in 2004 and was completed in 2006. An amazing 168 stainless steel plates were used in the artwork, where they were wielded together to form a sculpture that has attracted visitors from far and wide. The exterior parts of the sculpture were polished such that the seams are not at all visible. The sculpture now stands at 33 by 66 by 42 feet, or when measured by meters, 10 by 20 by 13. It has a total weight of 100 tons. This marvelous beauty took twenty three million dollars to come to life and it’s spell binding architecture confirms being worth the money. To appreciate the uniqueness and creativity, this public art was awarded by the American Welding Society as well.

Liquid Mercury Inspiration

The inspiration behind the designing and constructing the sculpture came from the liquid mercury. Viewed from a distance, the sculpture looks like a giant drop of mercury. It is amazing how the surface of Cloud Gate reflects as well as distorts the Chicago’s skyline. The experience of walking around or under the sculpture is one that visitors and residents treasure and yearns for. Thousands of locals and visitors from across the globe pass under the Cloud Gate’s 3.7 (12 feet) arch on daily basis. The underside of the sculpture is incredibly designed in such a way that the conclave chamber warps, distorts and multiplies reflections. These undersides are popularly referred to as the “omphalos” a Greek term for the “navel”.  These reflective effects make the Cloud Gate a very popular photo-taking spot for both local and international tourists.

Design Selection

The road to the construction of this amazing artwork started in 1999, when officials of the Millennium Park, architects, curators and art collectors made a review of artistic works of 30 artists. They asked for proposals of two of them, Jeff Koons (American) and Anish Kapoor. Jeff’s proposal of a permanent playground slide sculpture 150 feet accessible through an elevator was rejected in favor of this amazing Cloud Gate.


The structure was not popular at first and was therefore rejected by the public at large. The main reason for this rejection was for the fact that it remained unfinished till the opening of the park. However, soon after completion and revelation, its graph of popularity started increasing tremendously.

The Amazing Cloud Gate has also earned huge acclamation and applauds from the media. Many films and video scenes have been shot here so far. The bean is also loved by photographers, whether its day or night, its view is always splendid. Some of the famous movies which used this spot are Source Code, Nights and Weekends, The Break-Up etc.

Secret thought of Kapoor

Either we call it a Mercury Bubble, the Cloud Gate or a Bean, to know what Kapoor was thinking is quite a surprise in its own. As Kapoor belongs to India he has expressed Hinduism concepts in this piece of architecture. The concept here is the male and female similarity and difference. That's why when people called it a giant bean he did not like it, and then he officially bought the name Cloud Gate. To him this is a gateway to another dimension inside the viewer, where they can see different dimensions of their personality in their own reflections.


Indeed it’s fun to walk through the cloud gate. The silver mirror surface creates a scene including the viewer. You can just stand underneath and observe your own reflection or have a sky view from a distance. Children enjoy it the most and love making faces. Adults and couples also find it a memorable spot. Photographers and videographers love shooting it. Senior citizens who avoid other noisy parks can also enjoy the peace of this gate to walk in to another dimension. In short, it’s a fun spot for everyone and a must see spot of this city!

Did You Know?

About thousands of people touch this sculpture daily. So, how is this mirror kept shining and clean? Maintenance of the cloud gate is also an art. It takes two to three nights to wash this wonderful landmark completely. It is cleaned several times a day with spray glass cleaner and microfiber cloth. It is washed twice a year using forty U S Gallons liquid soap. According to the contract it is supposed to last for one thousand years.

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