Celebrating Calgary’s Past & Future with Glass Public Art

In a city as fast-paced and lively as Calgary, Alberta, it can be easy to get caught up in new construction and building projects that seem to pop up everywhere in our ever-expanding city. However, it is equally important to remember and commemorate where Calgary got it’s start. Fort Calgary is Calgary’s “birthplace”, established in 1875 by the North-West Mounted Police.

Located next to one of Calgary’s original neighborhoods, East Village, the Fort Calgary site has been home to many things but in 1974, it was purchased by the City of Calgary and reopened as a historic site and museum. In recent years, the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) committed to reviving the East Village and Fort Calgary area – to transform the area for the future, while celebrating its important past.

The CMLC’s focus was on cohesiveness and community. Included in their plan was a large-scale landscaping program called “The Edges” which defines the boundary between East Village and Fort Calgary. Susan Veres, CMLC’s VP of Marketing and Communications describes The Edges, “we wanted to look at how to treat the edges of the East Village, for a seamless transition between the urban energy of East Village and the natural character of Fort Calgary.”

The finishing piece of The Edges project are the five Fort Calgary Sentinels, which stand guard at the corner of 9th Avenue and 6th Street and act as a gateway between Fort Calgary and the East Village. The tallest pillar represents Fort Calgary, while the remaining four pillars each represent a figure significant to Calgary’s history, including: North-West Mounted Police Captain Deane, Chief Crowfoot, Calgary Alderman John Ayer, and Colonel Macleod.

Developed by the CMLC in partnership with Calgary-based Heavy Industries, the goal for the Sentinels was to seamlessly combine modern and historical elements to create a meaningful public art piece that welcomed visitors to the area.

The Sentinels themselves are a juxtaposition of modern and historical elements. Combining sleek glass and a steel frame, with artwork that features historical quotes and images from the figures they represent. To bring the glass design to life, Heavy Industries worked closely with the Goldray Glass design team. The first challenge was to match the brilliant red color, a reference to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) uniform. Additionally, Goldray had to combine the red background with the intricate artwork. To achieve this, Goldray’s Technographic Interlayer process was used. With this process, Goldray’s team achieved a perfect color-match for the desired red color and printed the graphic design onto a high-resolution film, which was then laminated between glass. To complete the design, each pillar is backlit, with the Technographic film diffusing the light to create a subtle glow in the area at night.

The finished public art project enlivens and draws attention to the area, with the Sentinels beckoning passersby to stop and reflect. “The Sentinels call out our history” says Veres, “The project highlights where we come from and where we can go.”

Goldray Glass was thrilled to have been a part of bringing this local public art project to life and we continue to work on many exciting public art projects throughout North America. To find out more about the Fort Calgary project, check out this inspiring video. For additional design inspiration, please join us on Instagram,  FacebookLinkedIn or Twitter where we regularly post project pictures and case studies as we build our community of industry professionals.  If you’d like to work with a member of our team, please call us at 1-800-640-3709 or email us at info@goldrayglass.com and we’d be more than happy to assist you with your next design.