Solar panels and architectural simplicity became one on a few of the buildings at the Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois. Spire Solar, a Massachusetts based solar electric module and systems equipment manufacturer, has completed five new photovoltaic (PV) systems for the park to provide building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), or solar electric systems that have the double purpose of producing electricity and serving as construction materials. These systems were manufactured locally at Spire Solar Chicago.Bedford, Massachusetts – July 20, 2004 – [SolarAccess.com] “Using solar electricity at Millennium Park is consistent with our goal as a city to expand the use of renewable energy,” said Mayor Richard M. Daley. “Chicago is committed to leading by example and incorporating technology that will not only save money but is good for the environment and the overall quality of life for our residents.” The Millennium Park PV projects combine function with aesthetics. Thousands of tourists and residents will visit the park each year and be able to view the PV installations, normally hidden on rooftops away from the public eye. The Exelon Pavilions, designed by Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge Architects (HBRA), are glass cubes structures with BIPV curtain walls comprised of mono-crystalline PV panels. Curtain walls are non-load bearing exterior walls that serve as weather surfaces. HBRA architects and engineers from the Chicago branch of Spire worked together to design the architectural modules, which consist of dark PV cells encased in laminates with color-matched back sheets. Two additional pavilions at a separate park location will get the same BIPV treatment. Wausau Metals joined the team to ensure that the walls would comply with the National Electrical Code and the Chicago Building Code. Exhibits inside the pavilions will include information on PV, the power generation from the systems, as well as their associated environmental benefits. The park features five separate solar installations totaling over 80 kilowatts of PV capacity, typically supplying enough electricity to power 15-20 Chicago homes. Light filters partially through the Millennium Park’s bicycle shelter. Another BIPV project integrating Spire Solar Chicago products is the Millennium Park Bicycle Shelter, complete with 300 spaces, lockers, showers, bike repair, bike rental and other amenities to accommodate commuters and recreational bikers. Muller & Muller Architects chose two of Spire Solar Chicago’s custom module designs for this Chicago Department of Transportation facility. Clear-backed solar panels, some with cells arranged in a checkerboard fashion, are installed in a custom framing system over a glass atrium roof. The cells create a “floating” appearance and cast a dappled pattern that brings the eye upward. “These projects demonstrate Spire Solar Chicago’s ability to integrate solar photovoltaic systems attractively and seamlessly into building designs,” Vice President of Spire Solar Steve Hogan said. ComEd, an Exelon company, is funding the four pavilions, and partially funding the bicycle shelter. Project funding was also provided by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.