The first residential building leading a new phase of Church St. in Toronto, the interior design for 411 Church brings an upscale brand experience to the bustling Church and Wellesley neighbourhood. The developer, CentreCourt, wanted this project and its lobby experience to set the tone for its future work.
Interior Designers: Dominic De Freitas, ARIDO; Suzanne Wilkinson, ARIDO; Bonnie Leung, ARIDO
Design Firm: Figure3
Joint Venture: Urban Art & Metal Works Inc.
Photographer: Steve Tsai Photography
With a narrow, tall lobby at 411 Church, Figure3 wanted to activate the volume of negative space with a beautiful custom ceiling sculpture to draw the attention of visitors and passersby, and to evoke a feeling of wonder.
Inspiration came a few years earlier as Figure3 Principal and Residential Studio Lead was in Paris. Luxury retail shops such as Prada and Louis Vuitton along the Champs-Élysées all had beautiful sculptural elements in their atria, which evoked a powerful, emotional response.
A geometric and artful sculpture with intertwined rods expressing movement was the selected concept.
With elegance and luxury top of mind, no welds, seams, or fastening screws were to be visible, however, which was quite a challenge. Taking advantage of the sharp, crisp edges that can be created in a mill, solid aluminum bars were chosen as the material in square, flat and rectangular shapes. Round aluminum dowel pins connect each piece together, ensuring no joins or fastenings are visible.
In order to understand the size and proportions of the sculptural elements, Figure3 created several iterations of the sculpture in a 3D format. The designs were then sent to the fabricator, Urban Art & Metal Works (UAMW), to determine how the imagined concept could be realized. The fabricator and interior design team evaluated several materials for weight and cost considerations before selecting aluminum. Every horizontal and vertical piece was cut to size, its dowel pins hand-cut, with matching holes drilled to create a press-fit for secure assembly. Using their shop’s ceiling height, UAMW recreated a false wood ceiling containing the light fixture cut-outs from 411 Church in order to begin the assembly of the vertical support flat bars and spacing layout process.
It took four skilled employees five weeks in the shop to execute the design and assembly. With the preassembly completed and approved, they then had to disassemble each piece, engraving each piece with its connecting location. Once all bars were identified, they were sent for gold powder coating. With 368 bars and 800 hand-cut dowels, the sculpture is 29 feet long, 21 feet wide, and 7 feet tall, weighing a total of 1,900 pounds.
At 411 Church, a team of four assembled the sculpture over three weeks; first securing the vertical flat bars and their connections to the ceiling, then, carefully adding each piece one at a time.
With the calm backdrop of white marble, a luxurious gold-colored ceiling sculpture makes for a brilliant and striking contrast. Gold bars are inlaid within the marble that lines the lobby as if parts of the sculpture are integrated into the lobby walls. This component demarcates the lobby area from the adjacent elevators and divides the space.
With the condo located in Toronto’s most prominent LGBTQ+ neighborhood and a bustling university community, it was very important for the art piece to reflect the diversity of the area. The intersection of the pieces is like the intersection of communities, separate and united at once, and greater than the sum of its parts. Its simplicity impresses, and its perceived undulating pieces dazzle. It’s public art for all to see and admire.
Suspended over the reception desk, the beautiful sculpture completes the space, accenting the height of the lobby. Viewed from the double story window outside, or inside the space, this one-of-a-kind art piece dazzles.
Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: 2020
Project Square Footage: 700 square feet