Illuminated Art Footbridge | Bay St. Bridge
Toronto, ON: This expansive 129’ long bridge in downtown Toronto, connecting the Scotiabank Arena and Union Station Bus Terminal in the CIBC SQUARE, features a striking illuminated art piece along the walls. Through fine engineering and meticulously tailored lighting and detailing, renowned artist Nicolas Baier’s vision comes to life with vivid illumination. A custom designed and highly complex hidden structural system houses multiple layers of precisely machined acrylic panels with a mirror-finish back, creating the illusion of infinite movement and energy without detracting from the aesthetic. With the ability to also shift lighting colors for holidays or special events, the intensity of this artistic statement is palpable to anyone traversing the footbridge. These illuminated acrylic panels create a stunning visual experience in this space.
The pedestrian bridge connecting Scotiabank Arena and the Union Station Bus Terminal to the new CIBC SQUARE opened to the public December 2020. The artwork concept for the footbridge was created by Montreal born artist, Nicolas Baier. When explaining his concept, Baier states, “The work refers to mycelium. The filaments of this natural network, formed of elongated and partitioned cells, are everywhere in the ground where they can cover thousands of meters or even several square kilometers. They are earth’s biggest living organism. This work is, so to speak, in symbiosis with the complex. It gives to it a subtle symbol, it exposes its reason for being, it allows the CIBC Square to carry its own emblem high and proud.” Baier also correlates the etchings on the acrylic to the sport that CIBC SQUARE houses, the Toronto Maple Leaf’s ice hockey, adding further depth and meaning. With such profound philosophy behind the artistic concept, it was critical for GPI (with the help of Wilkinson Eyre, Adamson Associates, Hines and Ellis Don) to preserve and highlight this importance through the engineering, design, and illumination of the feature.
Testing here was key. Various media, surface specs, layering techniques, and fixture combinations were mocked up and vetted to arrive at the ideal combination. Ultimately, it was determined that multiple layers of double etched acrylic with a mirror back finish illuminated with GPI’s Infuse™ Complete LED Backlighting System not only checked all the technical boxes, but also best portrayed the artist’s aesthetic vision. This bridge now adds a unique touch of art that draws attention to pedestrians walking through it or below it.
ART: What is so unique about this bridge is that it is publicly visible not only inside the footbridge, but also through the exterior glass windows opposite of the feature wall, creating a visual dynamic for pedestrians to enjoy from both inside and out. With public transpiration being so crucial in downtown Toronto, GPI and everyone involved, their main goal was to create a sense of delight to oncoming pedestrians throughout their day. “The design is the result of what we could call a “virtual self-growing network” that uses the inherent qualities of the pattern of the glass and the structure of the bridge to ‘grow’ itself.” states Baier.
About the Company: GPI Design is an engineer-build firm that creates iconic features. Through the combination of translucent material sourcing, bespoke lighting design practices, and innovative structural methods, GPI teams with architects to cultivate statements that push the boundaries of design. To learn more about GPI Design, please visit: https://gpidesign.com/.