By Richard White, December 28, 2013
It always amazes me what you can find in downtown Calgary if you just explore a little bit - get off the beaten path. A few weeks back I shared with you some artworks that I found in the lobby and hallways at Bow Valley College. The place is a friggn public art gallery with art everywhere. Learn more at: Flaneuring Bow Valley College
Another day I was flaneuring the east end of Stephen Avenue and while not off the beaten path there was the one of downtown's more successful public artworks - the larger than live famous five ladies. Learn more at Famous 5 at Olympic Plaza.
Today I had an appointment at Eight Avenue Place (EAP) and discovered paintings by Jack, Jack, Ray, Jean, Jean-Paul and Marcelle - all members of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. It is not everyday you find in an office lobby with museum quality artworks.
But then downtown Calgary is not your average downtown, with over 40 million square feet of office space, it is one of the top 10 downtowns for corporate headquarters in North America. Every new office building has wonderful art in the lobby and on the plaza making the downtown a 40-block contemporary art gallery. Learn More: "Downtown Calgary giant outdoor art gallery"
Someday someone is going to create an app that will be a self guided tour of YYC's Downtown Art gallery.
Iconic Canadian Artists
In the meantime, EAP has created a brochure for six masterpiece contemporary artworks by iconic Canadian artists:
- Jack Shadbolt
- Ray Mead
- Jean-Paul Riopelle
- Jack Bush
- Jean McEwen
- Marcelle Ferron
While I have been critical of Calgary's downtown in the past for being too corporate, too conservative and too minimal in its urban design, EAP and others have certainly contributed to making our downtown more visually interesting with literally hundreds of artworks.
EAP's Lobby Art & Design....
EAP lobby also includes modern office furniture by Arne Jacobsen, Eero Saarinen and Florence Knoll. The huge south facing two story atrium or winter garden would make a wonderful sculpture garden. While there are plans for a major piece of public art, it is most likely to go outside on 9th Avenue.
Currently the lobby features numerous "ice bursts" suspended from the ceiling that add an element of surprise and elegance to the minimalism of the lobby design.
Eight Avenue Place was designed by Pickard Chilton an international architectural firm based in New Haven, Connecticut and Gibbs Gage Architects from Calgary. It was the first pre-certified LEED Platinum high-rise building in North Americia. The first tower is 49 floors and the second tower which will be completed and occupied in 2014 is 40floors. Combined they provide 1,800,000 square feet of office space on 89 floors.
Kudos to AIMCo, SITQ and Matco the co-owners of EAP for their innovative use of art (both locally and nationally) to differentiate themselves from other major office complexes. I can't wait to see the outdoor sculpture piece they will commission.
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RW writes: Great article. Most of us, myself included might notice these things but do not tie it all together because we are on a mission aka meeting/lunch/deadline. The thought of having art all around us sure gives another dimension to our corporate downtown. Keep up the increased pace of writing...I find your “investigative” sleuthing makes me re-think and re-examine my urban environment. I sometimes find myself in a situation re-examining a streetscape or a public space and wonder how Richard might interpret the situation as compared to how I am seeing it. A recent example occurred when I was describing Stampede Trail and the activities/signage and buzz we hope to create with a new entertainment district and thought back to your signage article and how you might view our approach (I think you will get excited).
GB writes: When I was a young man, I worked for Manulife and we operated Calgary House at 550-6th Avenue. The lobby has a full wall bronze of "Pan and the Three Graces". In 1972 I had a plaque put up describing the piece, but I think it is gone now. The amount of great public art in Calgary is amazing, but much of it is seldome seen or identified. Good for you for bringing some of it to our attention.
JB writes:Thank you! Viewing this blog this morning brought a burst of warmth into my office! All that lovely color! This definitely warrants a trip downtown.