King William Beacon and Gate Public Art Project
The City of Hamilton has completed a Public Art process to commission a permanent public art work to be located at the corner of King William Street and James Street North. The volunteer citizen jury has selected the work Wood Gate by artist-led Team Make as the winning proposal.
The City of Hamilton has undergone substantial transformation to re-define itself as a cultural center after a long history as an industrial leader. A once utilitarian town has flourished into a gathering place for the arts, culture, hospitality and entertainment sectors. We believe engineered wood is the steel of the 21st century and our proposal celebrates Hamilton’s transformation by creating a new public space that integrates a bold wooden sculpture acting as a beacon and meeting point for the evolving King William District.
Our proposal, Wood Gate, will offset the hardness of the urban streetscape by creating a tall, wooden sculpture and gateway that commemorates King William Street as an activated zone for community-based engagement and activity. Wood Gate resembles a tall tree trunk struck by lighting with radial branches concealing a gate which can be lowered to act as a vehicular barrier across King William Street.
Key features include:
The retractable gate is designed using a simple pulley system with a built-in safety locking system to prevent free fall movement. When the gate is not in use, the pulley system is locked.
A public seating bench is integrated into the North side of King William Street to encourage the public to sit and engage with one another. In addition, the seating bench integrates the gate locking rest to avoid movement when the gate is lowered.
Integrated lighting will showcase the dynamic formation of the art piece at night, provide visibility for evening use and acts as a physical marker anchoring the corner of King William Street and James Street. When the gate is being lowered for street closure, the lighting can be switched to a red flashing light signaling caution for public safety.
Use of Wood
Wood Gate takes advantage of new advancements made in the wood industry to improve durability and strength for outdoor use. The sculpture arms are made of laminated wood members, carved, and fastened together to create the dramatic formation; an acetylated wood product specifically engineered for exterior use.
This report is an overview of the discussion and decision of the volunteer citizen jury which met on the afternoon of Monday August 24, 2020 to determine which of the six (6) shortlisted artists’ proposals for King William Street Beacon and Gate Public Art Project should be implemented.
They reviewed the submissions in terms of technical issues, artistic excellence, response to context, public consultation results and in response to the following competition goal:
The new artwork for King William Street should be a landmark that marks the entrance to the King William Street District and expresses the character of this evolving area both day and night to those visiting the street and passing on James Street, inviting them to take part in local events, patronize local businesses and the theatre.
The jury also reviewed submissions for how successfully they addressed one or more of the following themes identified by artists, local residents and business owners:
- Active 24 / 7
- A place of celebration
- A place of performance (both formal theatre and on the street)
- A place for interaction
After a discussing the various aspects of the six (6) shortlisted proposals the jury gave the highest overall score to the proposal WoodGate by Team Make. The commission for the work will therefore be awarded to Team Make.
The jury members applaud the efforts of all 33 artists that made submissions to the competition. There were many excellent proposals. Opening personal ideas and talents to public scrutiny can be difficult and the jury therefore extends their thanks to all the artists that shared their ideas by submitting to this competition, especially the six shortlisted artists whose proposals were presented for public comment.
The jury also extends their thanks to all 265 people that took the time to review the shortlisted submissions, select their preferred proposal and provide comments. There were 25 pages of comments submitted including many excellent comments related to the project goal. These insightful comments were very helpful in understanding public reaction to all of the proposals and in making the difficult decision of which of the six excellent proposals should be implemented.
Jury comments on each proposal are as follows:
WOODGATE by Team Make
The jury felt that this proposal best achieved the project goals proposing an elegant celebratory and performative work that is conceptually accessible. Given its size and dramatic lighting, the proposed work will be impactful both day and night and can easily become a local landmark. The proposed seating adds an interactive component not present in some other proposals. The jury felt that the use of engineered wood and a design that recalls a tree creates a welcome connection to nature, speaks to evolution and growth and brings a unique warmth to the street. Some concerns about the material were made but it was noted that City staff and technical advisors had reviewed the material and indicated that the species proposed and details used in construction were appropriate for an urban setting. This proposal also received the largest number of favourable comments from the public during consultation.
UNTITLED by Petra Matar + Dave Hind
The jury applauded this team’s appreciation of an artist’s ability to perceive and create beauty and the local arts community’s role in the evolution of King William Street as the inspiration for their proposal. They also noted the bold and innovative design that would work well as gate. However, they felt that it did not reflect the character of the neighbourhood as well as some of the other proposals. The work would have a great impact at night when open but based on the proposal information provided it was not clear that the work would be as impactful as others during the day. Though the team received recognition as talented local artists, the proposal was not embraced by the public as much as some others.
BLUE VERVAIN by Owen Johnson
The jury felt this artist proposed a beautiful structure recalling traditional historic urban street furniture. In particular, jury members were impressed with the gate design which was unanimously regarded as an artistic accomplishment. The jury were concerned however that the artwork was similar in scale and style to the existing street lights and may therefore not work as a landmark. Jury members also felt this work was ‘looking back’ instead of ‘looking forward.’ Though an aesthetically pleasing proposal that resonated with the public during consultation, the jury felt this proposal was not as reflective of the competition goal and themes as the winning proposal.
FLYING HIGH by Xiaojing Yan
The jury were of the opinion this proposal had beautiful lines, would have high visibility both day and night and offered a thoughtful gate design. They also noted that it had a timeless and traditional quality. Although very dramatic the jury felt that the work was not as interactive as the some of the higher scoring proposals and not as related to the street as it sits above the street level. Overall, despite having many favourable comments by the public during consultation and high artistic merit, concerns were raised by the jury that the piece did not specifically address the unique evolving character of the surrounding area as well as some of the other proposals.
THE HAMMER-PILLAR by David Trautrimas
The jury complemented the artist’s bold and playful interpretation of the project’s goals and themes. The jury also appreciated that the gate was not merely an extension of the work but part of its story. However, there were concerns that a lack of lighting would mean that the work would have little impact at night and that the concept was not embraced by the public.
LIGHTHOUSE-BEAM-SPOTLIGHT by Lilly Otasevic
The jury appreciated how this proposal addressed the Hamilton context; its history of steel production and position as an important port city. Moreover, the jury felt the gate was beautifully elaborated and a well-considered design. The jury did feel however that the work’s dependence on text that was not yet developed to express key themes was problematic. Jury members also noted that the work would have a dynamic presence at night but were concerned that the artwork would not be as engaging during the day. This proposal did not have a strong response from the public during consultation.
- Melissa Bennett - Curator of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of Hamilton
- Monika Ciolek - Arts Advisory Commission / Performance Artist
- Kerry Jarvi - Executive Director, Downtown Hamilton BIA
- Lori LeMare* - Master Artist / Artistic Director, Hamilton Aerial Group
- Josh Neubauer - Principal, Urban Strategies (Hamilton Office)
- Sahra Soudi* - Multidisciplinary Artist / YouthCan Coordinator Centre3
*Partial attendance - Stage 1 adjudication only. Written comments provided for Stage 2
Advisors to the Jury:
- Ken Coit - Manager, Placemaking, Public Art & Projects
- Zahra Awang - Art in Public Places Project Specialist, Placemaking, Public Art & Projects
Public Opinion Survey Results
The survey has now closed. Thank you to everyone who participated. Please review the public opinion survey results.
Call for Artists
The Call for Artists closed February 27, 2020. 43 proposals were received from 33 artists. Stage 2 of the Competition closed July 17, 2020. 6 detailed proposals were received from 6 artists or artist-led teams.
The City of Hamilton is seeking Artists and Artist-led teams to submit proposals for a permanent public art work at the corner of King William Street and James Street North in downtown Hamilton. The work will replace an existing light standard, may be illuminated and shall incorporate a gate feature that can temporarily close the street to vehicular traffic for special events.
A Focus Group was held on February 26, 2019 to determine goals and themes that artists will be asked to address in their submissions to this competition.