Obelisk by acclaimed artist chosen for public realm project

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A Pierre Poussin sculpture at Sheridan College. Pic: http://www.pierrepoussin.com/ Pierre Poussin

A 9.2 metre-high obelisk to be created by internationally-acclaimed Toronto artist and designer Pierre Poussin has been chosen as the centrepiece of a new public realm project. The sculpture is part of the City of Toronto’s Carlaw + Dundas Community Initiative project

The project, approved by City Council in 2014 and managed by City Planning, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Transportation Services and consultants Schollen & Company, will result in public realm improvements in Jimmie Simpson Park, Badgerow Parkette, Boston Avenue and the Carlaw-Dundas triangle. Construction will begin in the summer of 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2018. The approved capital budget is $750,000.

“This project is a good example of various City divisions and community stakeholders working together to improve our common grounds,” said Councillor Michelle Holland (Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest), Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee.

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The competition called for submissions for a vertical element that can be seen from all directions when approaching the site on the Carlaw-Dundas triangle, which is a City-owned open space west of Carlaw Avenue, north of Dundas Street East and south of Dickens Street. It will be transformed into an urban gathering space and will feature the winning submission.

Exciting moment

“This is an exciting moment for the Carlaw and Dundas neighbourhood, our ward and the city,” said Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth). “Pierre Poussin’s obelisk marker will become an iconic entrance feature to the neighbourhood. His wonderful design speaks to the industrial character and vibrancy of this neighbourhood and also our great city.”

Poussin’s proposal entitled “Brick Obelisk” was selected by an eight-member jury, which included community members, City staff and consultants. It will be an intricately patterned monument made of laser-cut, weathered steel etched with local maps from different time periods. Like the triangular park, the marker is a three-sided pyramid. The shape is also meant to refer to the smokestacks of the industrial period of the neighbourhood. The concept plan includes lighting the obelisk from the inside with LED lights. Installation is planned for 2018 following environmental remediation on the site.

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“The jury was captivated by Pierre’s creativity and thoughtful expression of the site,” said jury chair Catherine Williams, a public art consultant. “We had excellent submissions but Pierre’s was a clear winner and we look forward to seeing the final design and construction.”

Poussin specializes in large-scale public art installations. His work has been featured at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, and one is on display  under the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto, entitled “Mitosis Courtyard”. He has also worked with the Peace Bridge Authority of Fort Erie and Buffalo, Princeton University, the Walt Disney Corporation and many others. He is a graduate of the furniture design program at Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.

The Carlaw + Dundas Community Initiative has been guided by local input through several public consultations. Visit the project website at http://www.carlawdundas.ca to learn more and to see the plans.

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