Project Description

Groundswell at Downsview Park

Groundswell at Downsview Park is an integrated work of art by Artist Michael Singer embedded at several locations within the Stanley Greene Neighborhood of Downsview Park in Toronto, Ontario. Re-imagined by Canada Lands Company, Downsview Park is internationally recognized as one of the largest and most significant repurposing of post industrial land, originally marked by the 1999 international design competition won by Bruce Mau and Rem Koolhaas. Downsview Park is home to both open spaces and a multitude of metropolitan level public amenities, and will be ringed by newly developed residential neighborhoods and employment centers. Following a public art masterplan prepared by Andrew Davies Public Art Consulting, Groundswell constitutes the public art component of Stanley Greene, the first residential neighborhood to be built as part of the overall Downsview Park repurposing effort. Groundswell is based on the seasonal interactions of earth and water, the curious swelling of the bedrock underlying Toronto, and the upwelling and interweaving of cultures in Toronto as a whole.

Groundswell: Southgate is comprised of several interrelated elements including sculpted benches, custom paving, and a sculpted retaining wall all created as if emerging from the ground; a distinct sculpture – Southgate Marker 2018 – forms the centerpiece of this area. The sculpture is comprised of interwoven metal components which support the growth of vines. The sculpted metal components blend a range of abstracted patterns that subtly reference textiles from some of the numerous cultures that live in the surrounding area. This contemporary filigree of intermixing patterns and textures with the sculpture’s overall form and climbing vines is symbolic of both the mingling of diversity and it’s rooting in a place. The reflection of sunlight and the complexity of shadows within and around the piece will vary over the course of each day and through the seasons, adding another layer of interplay.

Counterpart to the cultural groundswell, the project plays off of the documented swelling of Toronto’s shale bedrock as well as some of the minerals found in the region. Sculpted slab benches and walls rise from the ground as if through the swelling of the earth, their immense weight supported by an obscured base. Sculpted benches, a sculpted low retaining wall, and paving incorporate various patterns based on mineral formations from the region. These reliefs, such as one based on fluorite, are cast into the sculpted concrete pieces with the intention of surfacing and revealing otherwise buried complex natural formations. In this way, the swelling of the ground exposes these patterns and intermingles them with the impressions of the metal sculpture.

Groundswell: Southgate is complimented by Groundswell: Westgate Columns, a series of sculptural columns at the neighborhood entrance. Westgate Columns includes eight volumetric sculpted columns set within a tree lined vegetated traffic median. Detailing at the column faces create a sense of layering and uncovering through the use of darkened voids within. At night the column faces glow, and the detailing create a visual layering that changes as one moves along the roadway or sidewalk. The columns support the growth of trained vines.

Groundswell: Rainwalk Benches is a series of sculpted benches set within the neighborhood park rain garden. These relate to and link back to Groundswell: Southgate.

As part of a ‘mentee‘ program initiated and administered by Andrew Davies Public Art Consulting, local students provided the Artist with background research material and images related to their own personal topics of interest pertaining to the area and site. These materials formed some of the basis for the patterns and textures developed by the Artist for Groundswell.

Artist / Designer: Michael Singer
Singer Studio Team: Jonathan Fogelson, Jason Bregman, Will Robart
Engineering and Landscape Architecture: Jim Theodorlis,
Matthew Hooker, Illya Seagal, and others at Morrison Hershfield
Solar System Design/Build: Haliburton Solar and Wind, Haliburton Ontario
Specialty Fabrication: FAP, Hydro-Cutter, Metal Supply & Machining, McGill Steel Works
General Construction Work: Cambium Site Contracting and Gateman-Milloy
Owner’s Team at Canada Lands Company: David Anselmi and Victor Simone
Public Art Administration: Andrew Davies Public Art Consulting

Groundswell at Downsview Park