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April 30, 2005 - The Millennium Park Welcome Center Opens in the Northwest Exelon Pavilion


Anne Brownsey


Chicago (April 30, 2005) Visitors to Millennium Park will now be greeted by the solar powered Millennium Park Welcome Center housed in the Northwest Exelon Pavilion located at 201 E. Randolph Street. The new center, which is covered in solar panels that generate energy for the building, offers information about the park and houses interactive exhibits that raise awareness about renewable energy technology.

Mayor Richard M. Daley and Frank M. Clark, president, ComEd and executive vice president, Exelon, officially opened the four Exelon Pavilions today in Millennium Park. The pavilions are a result of Exelon’s joint efforts with the city to support sustainable design and renewable energy while furthering educational and social awareness of “green” architecture in Chicago. Exelon and its subsidiary ComEd provided funding of $5.5 million for the Exelon Pavilions.

“We are excited to open the Millennium Park Welcome Center in the Exelon Pavilions and to help the City of Chicago greet visitors from all over the world to the spectacular Millennium Park,” said Clark.  “The buildings are a testament to Exelon’s and ComEd’s commitment to the city, the environment and to Mayor Daley’s ongoing renewable energy initiatives. The goal is not only to reduce the city’s net energy consumption, but to use the Exelon Pavilions as a teaching tool to raise public awareness of renewable energy technologies and demonstrate their practical use.”

"It is through partnerships like these that we are able to continue our efforts in making Chicago the most environmentally-friendly city in the nation," said Mayor Richard M. Daley.  "Together, we've made great strides in expanding our use of renewable energy, educating students and residents about the environment and improving the overall quality of life for people in Chicago."

During the opening ceremony, Peter Dreyfuss, director, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Midwest Regional Office, presented Mayor Daley and Frank Clark each with plaques commemorating the city’s and ComEd’s solar energy efforts as part of the Million Solar Roofs Initiative.  The DOE initiative was launched to install solar energy systems on one million buildings by 2010. With the 2004 completion of the four Exelon Pavilions, city solar installations reached the one-megawatt milestone, or enough to power nearly 150 homes. Chicago ranks fourth among U.S. cities in solar installations.

Two Exelon Pavilions are located on Randolph Street to the east and west of the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance, and the other two are located on Monroe Street to the east and west of the Lurie Garden. All four pavilions incorporate solar technology to produce power for the buildings. The 6,100 square foot northwest pavilion on Randolph Street houses Millennium Park offices, public washrooms and the Millennium Park Welcome Center. The center offers guides to the park, wheelchairs and is a venue for exhibitions on energy, parks and other themes. The current interactive displays educate visitors on renewable energy and how the solar panels covering the pavilion provide energy to power the building.

The exhibits include an interactive web-based display in which visitors may touch a map of the city to see where solar technology is being used to create electricity. There is also a dynamic multi-screen video presentation using state-of-the-art graphics to show the different ways in which electricity is generated and used today. In the atrium of the building, Chicago-based artists Patrick McGee and Adelheid Mers created “Heliosphere, Biosphere, Technosphere,” a sculptural installation with three nine-foot two-way mirrors backlit to reveal appearing and disappearing text and images that was designed to interpret the links between the Earth’s atmosphere, the solar system and scientific applications.

The northeast pavilion on Randolph Street provides access to parking below and houses the Chicago Shop at Millennium Park, which is also now open to the public.

Exelon’s and ComEd’s Environmental Commitment to Chicago
Exelon was recently honored by the city with the new 2005 Environmental Excellence Award for its environmental leadership and ongoing partnership with the Chicago Park District. Three years ago, Exelon and ComEd began sponsoring a comprehensive series of environmental programs as part of a $1.5 million partnership with the Chicago Park District. The sponsorship was created to support a wide range of community-based and family-focused nature and science educational programs and the restoration of several Chicago natural areas including the historic Jens Jensen Prairie River in Humboldt Park.

Exelon and ComEd also support the city’s environmental initiatives through the installation of solar power.  By the end of 2004, ComEd had expended $12 million to support the installation of over 50 solar systems throughout the city, including at eight Chicago Public Schools and at eight museums. The city has over 1.2 megawatts of installed solar power, which represents nearly 70 percent of the total solar power in all of Illinois. In addition, a hybrid wind and solar installation is incorporated into the lagoon circulation system at the Humboldt Prairie River.

ComEd is a member of a public-private partnership called the Chicago Solar Partnership.  Since 2000, members from the business, local, state and federal government, labor and non-profit sectors, have worked to promote solar energy in the City of Chicago. ComEd’s solar efforts have helped to make Illinois fifth among states in the U.S. in terms of installed solar capacity.

ComEd entered into an agreement with the City of Chicago in 1999 to invest $12 million in solar generation equipment through 2004. As part of the sale of ComEd’s generation assets in 1999, ComEd provided $225 million in start-up capital for the Illinois Clean Energy Community Trust to support the development of renewable energy resources, other energy-related projects that improve the state’s environmental quality, and programs intended to preserve or enhance natural habitats and wildlife areas.

More About the Exelon Pavilions
Designed by Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge Architects, the two, black-glazed minimalist towers on Randolph Street are each covered in 460 solar electric (photovoltaic, or PV) modules on their outside surfaces with the capacity to generate 16,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. When
solar energy strikes each PV module, it frees and energizes subatomic particles called electrons. The movement of electrons creates a current of electricity.  The energy generated will power both buildings, increasing energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption costs. This is the first
time in Chicago, and in all of Illinois, that the façade of a building is covered in PV modules. It is also one of the largest “building integrated” PV projects ever constructed in the U.S.

Recycling facilities located within the northwest building will tie into the park’s recycling network and mechanical systems utilize the residual capacity of an existing chilled water source from within the park. Interior finishes and construction materials are derived from renewable resources.  Exterior canopies are accent lit by ground lights with photo-cells that are activated at sunset. Plumbing fixtures are more efficient than required and are fitted with motion sensors.

The energy efficiencies and other design characteristics of the northwest pavilion are expected to result in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. The LEED Green Building Rating SystemÒ is a voluntary consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings.  In addition, the northwest pavilion met Mayor Daley’s recent adoption of The Chicago Standard.  These construction standards were developed to guide the design, construction, and renovation of municipal facilities in a manner that provides healthier indoor environments, reduces operating costs, and conserves energy and resources.

On the south end of Millennium Park are two pavilions that provide access to the parking facility below from Monroe Street and the park level. Designed by the renowned architect Renzo Piano, these two structures feature limestone and glass facades and mirror the Renzo Piano-designed addition to The Art Institute of Chicago, to be built directly across Monroe Street. These pavilions also incorporate solar technology.  Twenty-four PV modules are located on the roof of the southeast pavilion and 16 PV modules are located on the roof of the southwest pavilion with the total capacity to generate 3,840 kilowatt hours of electricity annually.

About Millennium Park
Located in downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe Streets, the 24.5-acre Millennium Park is an unprecedented center for world-class art, music, architecture and landscape design. Among the park's prominent features are the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the most sophisticated outdoor concert venue of its kind in the United States; the interactive Crown Fountain by Jaume Plensa; the contemporary Lurie Garden designed by the team of Kathryn Gustafson, Piet Oudolf and Robert Israel; and Anish Kapoor's hugely popular Cloud Gate sculpture. For more information about Millennium Park, please visit www.millenniumpark.org or call 312-742-1168.


Exelon Corporation is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities with approximately 5.2 million customers and more than $14 billion in annual revenues.  The company has one of the industry’s largest portfolios of electricity generation capacity, with a nationwide reach and strong positions in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.  Exelon distributes electricity to approximately 5.2 million customers in northern Illinois and Pennsylvania and gas to more than 460,000 customers in the Philadelphia area.  Exelon is headquartered in Chicago and trades on the NYSE under the ticker EXC.


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