Lake Light Threshold

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Client: City of Phoenix Public Art

Location: Toronto, ON, Canada

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $825,000

Project Team

Architect

Chris Couse

KPMB

Metal Fabricator

Greg White

InKan Ltd.

Overview

The artwork consists of three elements that re-present a kinetic volume of light evoking the surface of Lake Ontario in winter: LED lighting; lightweight aluminum reflectors; and roller pattern glass.

The 134’ long x 10’ high x 6” deep Lake Light Threshold is a powerful urban threshold evoking the phenomenal experience of Toronto’s waterfront and Lake Ontario, speaking to the specific light as it is reflected, refracted, diffused and absorbed by its lakeside geography and climate.

Through the simplest intervention within the limited thickness of the rear opaque north wall, we are creating a surface which gives extraordinary perception of depth and light. The flow of human activity and seasonal and diurnal light is expressed along the entire length of the bridge.

Goals

While acting as an iconic threshold and connection that marks the relationship between Toronto’s current and historic shoreline, the “Lake Light Threshold” defines a 134’ long pedestrian bridge spanning York Street to connect two towers within Toronto’s financial district. This pedestrian bridge abuts the 390’ wide elevated rail tracks leading into Union Station, it’s location an artifact of freight rail lines and depots that serviced Lake Ontario’s shoreline in the 1850s.

Through the simplest intervention within the limited thickness of the rear opaque north wall, the design creates a surface which gives extraordinary perception of depth and light. The complex effects of the low sun over the frozen lake a few miles away are embodied as a synthesis within the Lake Light Threshold’s shallow depth.

Process

A 6” deep lightweight system features distributed vertical bars of directional LEDs whose beams of light are intercepted by vertical triangular prism-reflectors. The three planes of each reflector features different optical surfaces. Along the length of the artwork, the reflectors are rotated, their placement within the depth set progressively to interact with the recurring light sources.

The reflectors and lighting are enclosed behind roller patter glass panels. The interaction between these elements activates a playful sense of light observed on water's surface and embodies the ambiguous sense of the lake's simultaneous surface and depth.

As in all our projects, drawings, renderings, physical scale models, full scale mock-ups and digital modelling were extensively used to establish the form, its performance and feasibility.

Additional Information

This project was produced on a fast-track schedule. Our long-established relationships with our engineers, fabricators and installers allowed for a seamless execution.