Many North American cities could stand to see some more public art, especially in their busy downtown cores. In Toronto, a bridge that connects three distinct destinations — a major sports and entertainment venue (Scotiabank Arena), a critical transit node (Union Station) and a state-of-the-art corporate complex (CIBC Square) — is one of its most frequented passages. Used by office workers, condo dwellers and long-distance travellers, its design is an opportunity to both set the stage for arrivals to Toronto and brighten locals’ daily commutes.
With the revamp of the Bay Street Bridge interior, the team at GPI Design also saw an opening to showcase its powerful lighting technologies. To that end, it tapped Montreal artist Nicolas Baier to create an evocative 39-metre-long installation with a techno-organic vibe. “The work refers to mycelium,” Baier explains, citing the network of fungal threads that make up earth’s biggest living organism. “It’s in symbiosis with the complex.”
Through sketches, mock-ups and experiments with various layering techniques and lamp combinations, the artist finally arrived at his stunning result. The piece’s panels are made of double-etched acrylic with a mirror-back finish and illuminated with an LED backing, which allows the highly complex hidden structural system to create the illusion of “infinite movement.”
The lighting installation sets itself apart as a resounding success not only because of its ability to establish a sense of place within the footbridge but also because it has the potential to become a shining landmark in Toronto’s busy concrete jungle. Passersby below can also enjoy the show: Visible through the bridge’s floor-to-ceiling windows, the installation is reflected and enhanced by the glass towers that surround it on Bay Street. With programmed colour-morphing displays during holidays and special city events, it’s a bright spot in a transitional setting — a piece of urban art that Torontonians will appreciate for years to come.
Team Thomas Lawrence, Fallon Korinko and Mitch Polly (GPI Design) with Nicolas Baier
With the revamp of the Bay Street Bridge interior, the team at GPI Design saw an opening to showcase its powerful lighting technologies.