PROJECT A RUNAWAY FOREST, THEATRE PARK CONDOS, TORONTO, ON
ARTIST JAAKKO PERNU
ART CONSULTANT PUBLIC ART MANAGEMENT
DEVELOPER NICHE DEVELOPMENTS, LAMB DEVELOPMENT CORP. & HARHAY DEVELOPMENTS
GENERAL CONTRACTOR HARHAY CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT
BUILT BY EVENTSCAPE, DECEMBER 2015
This towering public art installation was designed for a new condo project in the trendy theatre district of Toronto. Eight 24-foot high custom aluminum sculptures that resemble trees were installed at the exterior courtyard entrance. A pond feature at the base of the trees is part of this impressive artwork. Each of the eight “trees” are approximately 4 1/2-feet wide and fit together like a jigsaw with only a 1” gap between them. Engineered, fabricated and installed by Eventscape, it was designed by Finnish sculptor and environment artist, Jaakko Pernu. Inspired by burning trees he titled it “A Runaway Forest”.
Unique Characteristics & Project Challenges:
The initial challenge was to translate the artist’s desk-top maquette into detailed drawings for the full sized, 24-foot high structures. Each of the eight trees were completely unique, with 8” diameter metal “trunks”, branches out from this trunk and 1/4 “ thick by 2” wide, random patterned metal “twigs” that appear to be continuous from one tree to the next. There were a total of 3 layers of twigs attached to the branches on each face of the trees. Each of the 112 twigs had its own cut file and layer, so precise templating was required for the welders to position and attach each twig. Because of the height of each piece, they were welded while laying horizontally, using a custom template for each layer and suspended on a custom jig to turn them as needed.
Structurally independent of each other, these massive structures involved a huge level of complexity. Engineering the details of fabrication and installation of these heavy structures was critical to maintain a vertical plane. All of the tree parts aligned with a precise tolerance, remaining perfectly parallel with equal gaps between them, to allow for movement under wind load. In plan view, each tree was an alternating trapezoid. This shape prevented the gaps from reading as obvious divisions, so that the twig pattern would appear continuous, turning corners and jumping gaps.
Before powder coating, the Eventscape team staged three of the trees outside of our warehouse for the client review. This staging also assisted in confirming the plan for installation on the site. Aluminum was chosen as the main structural material for its corrosion resistance but as the base of the trees were installed in a shallow chlorinated pool, a stainless steel foot was used.
The steel anchor bolts were installed on site by the general contractor. A survey was done to confirm exact design & placement of the base plates to ensure alignment. Installing the art sculptures involved shipping 2 trees per flat bed truck, carefully removing each with a telehandler lift and guiding them down over the bolts. The installers used the spider lift to remove the custom lifting jig and secure the final cap. The custom base required a high level of adaptability to maintain plumbness. The installers made sure that each tree was parallel and stable before moving on to the next.
With the addition of landscaping, bench seats and a laser cut patterned pool structure, this public art has become a significant part of the city’s urban culture.