The Bean Boasts the Beauty of Stainless Steel

A picture of Anish Kapoor with his creation, the Cloud Gate
Anish Kapoor with his creation, the Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate is a Stainless Steel sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor, an Indian-born British artist. To locals, Cloud Gate is better known as “The Bean.” For obvious reasons, the nickname, “The bean,” was coined from its bean like shape.

Legumes and the Bean

This massive artwork rests as the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at the Millennium Park. It took over two years to create “The Bean.” Did you know that Cloud Gate was constructed from 2004 to 2006? Additionally, it took about 168 Stainless Steel plates to be welded together in order to create this masterpiece.

An example of Stainless Steel Plates
An example of Stainless Steel Plates

Amid the crowds of people and the fingerprints left by tourists and locals alike, the highly polished exterior actually has no visible seams. As a matter of fact, Cloud Gate had to be polished more than a thousand times in order to remove all the visible seams. Today, you will see workers polish “The Bean” to maintain its reflective property.

Several workers polish the bean
Several workers polish the bean

Now, let’s get down to details. Cloud Gate measures 10 meters by 20 meters by 13 meters. Its arch is about  3.7 meters. Additionally, this grand sculpture weighs more than 110 tons! To put things into perspective, an average car only weighs about 1 to 1.5 tons. Can you imagine lifting more than 100 cars stacked together?


According to Anish Kapoor, liquid mercury served as his inspiration for the design. Liquid mercury is a reflective liquid, which is why the surface of Cloud Gate reflects and distorts the beautiful skyline of Chicago. The underside of Cloud Gate contains a concave chamber. This concave chambers warps and multiplies the reflections of the objects or the people under it. Furthermore, this chamber has become extremely popular with locals and tourists. It has been a favorite for photo-taking due to its reflective characteristic.

Cloud Gate’s concave chamber

Did you know that this unique sculpture was close to not being made? There were many technological concerns regarding construction and assembly. In addition, there were many technical and financial concerns in terms of maintenance. Many experts believed there was no way to make the design come to life. However, there were a few who believed it could happen and made it happen.  Luckily for us, Cloud Gate was formally dedicated on May 15, 2006. This Stainless Steel Sculpture has become an attraction and a go-to spot local and international people alike. If you get a chance to visit Illinois, make sure to stop by Chicago’s Millennium Park.

"The Bean" in Millennium Park. This photo is from Anish Kapoor's website.
“The Bean” in Millennium Park. This photo is from Anish Kapoor’s website.

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