Client: JL Properties
Location: Anchorage, Alaska, United States
Completion date: 2007
Artwork budget: $85,000
Nicolet, Chartrand, Knoll Ltée, Structural Engineers
Michel Bernier, Fabricator
JL tower is located some ten minutes from the downtown. The multiple perspectives onto the art site (from the parking lot, the lobby, the upper floor windows, and within the plaza itself), the relationship between interior and exterior, the significance of light ( up to 22 hours in summer, less than 4.5 in winter, the intensity of the aurora borealis), the strong presence of the mountains – these consideration inform the sculptural installation.
I was invited to create an artwork for the large exterior plaza of the new office tower. The plaza extends along one side of the building and partially wraps its ends, leading visitors and occupants to the entries ; it is designed to transition freely into the lobby area. Extensive glazing connects the interior lobby area with the exterior plaza on the ground floor, while offering plunging views onto the plaza from the upper floors. A particular challenge was to ensure the artwork remain stable in the face of local natural conditions, including seismic and wind conditions.
As with most of my projects, I was closely involved in all aspects of design and fabrication, including the purchasing of the material, fabrication details, assemblage and paint coatings. As I live in Montreal, much collaboration was done with the Anchorage architects and engineers by internet. Engineering and fabrication drawings were sent to Anchorage for approval and comments. The foundations were poured by the on site contractor. The artwork was fabricated in Montreal, shipped by train and truck, then installed by my Montreal team. I worked closely with a lighting supplier from Anchorage, to develop the lighting scheme and its installation.
The installation forms an outline of jagged peaks, recalling the profile of the Chugach mountain range surrounding the city. The tallest pole in each group is encircled with a number cut out of stainless steel, referencing the elevation of one of the range's peaks. The plaza floor is heated in winter, offering the possibility to include in ground lights free from snow around each pole cluster. Because of the indoor/outdoor connections, I included a cluster of poles inside the lobby that can be seen in relation to the exterior groupings.