Forge was given a rare opportunity to impart a sense of peaceful wonder into a new entry experience at 2 Queen Street E., crafting a generative, digital art installation that evokes the passage of light across the surface of water and creating a serene oasis in the heart of downtown Toronto.
Brookfield wanted a brand new entry experience for their high-profile office tower in downtown Toronto. The dated interior lobby was dark and lifeless, and tenants expected to see an upgrade that fit the stature of the building. Part of this entry experience was an aging piece of public art that they wanted to update to a digital format, which left two 12-foot by 2-foot columns that were front and center in the lobby interior.
The objective was to tie into the building’s nautically themed architecture, which included an undulating ceiling and a large anchor that sits in the foyer. The desire was to create a peaceful point of entry, giving tenants a moment of Zen before they went about their busy day. There was also a need to give Brookfield and the tenants a chance to display messaging over the public art, without marring or detracting from it.
Creating content for this expansive digital canvas challenged us to pay attention to software/hardware performance, texture resolutions, and in this case, the need to create an art piece that would remain fresh each time you encountered it.
The biggest challenge we faced was keeping the color shifting from ever getting muddy. There are many color gradients built into the software that programmatically blend into one another over the course of 24 hours to have the art mimic the colors of the sky. Keeping these colors from ever becoming ‘muddy’ and ugly was one of the biggest issues we faced—and one that was critical to the success of the finished piece.
Another significant issue was that of the fit and finish and physical maintenance of such large columns of MicroTiles. The hardware had to fit into the provided cavity, but they also needed to be easily accessed for maintenance.
Our software solution runs a complex algorithm that we built within Unity 30, tracking both time and wind speeds to impact the overall appearance of the art.
Over the course of the day, an array of gradients blend into one another, expressing the passage of time. To add more depth to the animation, we also programmed it to respond to current wind speeds in real time, translating that into the amplitude of the waves. The combination of these inputs ensures that the art will never look the same way twice.
We built in a digital signage component that allows tenants to feature special messaging. Using a simple web portal, these notices can be uploaded to the screens and shown for a specified amount of time.
For maintenance, we built the MircoTile columns on heavy-duty turntables, allowing the columns to be completely pulled out of the cavity for maintenance purposes.
The finished installation has become a central landmark within 2 Queen Street East’s lobby and due to its visibility. In this busy downtown hub, it has also created a visually appealing addition to the streetscape. The saturated fractals mesmerize and create a moment of quietude as tenants enter the building.
Brookfield and the tenants at 2 Queen have been thrilled by the artwork and their ability to communicate to their guests and employees with the digital signage component. In two easy steps, new messaging, including posters or welcome messages for guests can be uploaded for a specified duration.
In a fast-paced, crowded metropolis like Toronto, a refreshing moment of reflection is always welcome- the ‘Passage of Light’ installation has become a beacon of serenity for visitors, tenants and all who happen to pass by 2 Queen Street East.