By Tim McNicholas

CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s been a roller coaster for the Loop. The latest numbers show December foot traffic was way up from last year, but many areas still lagged behind pre-pandemic numbers.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas goes behind the scenes of a new plan to invigorate one area with art.

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This is where Lasalle meets Jackson, where the past meets the present, and now, where architecture meets art.

“People walk by these buildings, they see these big facades, but they don’t know sort of the ornamentation, the richness, the history of some of these buildings,” said Eric Masi.

“My whole idea was to really just accent the work that’s really already inside of the buildings,” said local artist Czr Prz.

Those buildings are the Central Standard Building and the Rookery — two titans of Chicago history.

“It’s almost to invite you in without having to come in,” Masi said.

Eric Masi is a photographer and marketing pro who photographed the stunning designs inside the Rookery — one of the few works still standing from famed architect Daniel Burnham.

Now you can see Masi’s photos in the Rookery’s windows — viewable for free from outside as a pandemic lingers on.

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“There’s no question this is inspired by the need to be outside more and for people to experience things outside,” he said.

Czr Prz breathed even more life into those photos with paint. He also designed colorful columns outside the Central Standard Building.

“I think it’s really important to send a message that ya know the public area is still out for view. And people should still be able to come out and look at all the beautiful things that are in their own city.” Prz said.

You’ll also see QR codes, scan them with your phone and you’ll find videos with more information on the art and the storied history of these 2 buildings.

The name of the project is called Be Part Of The Art. It’s funded by a $60,000 grant from City Hall’s pandemic recovery fund.

“I definitely feel proud. I also feel excited,” Masi said.

From a trip back in time through a vehicle of the present.

And that all came together not just through those artists and the city’s grant, but also the work of Masi’s marketing agency Torque and the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago.

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Tim McNicholas