Project Description

Moving Surfaces is a large-scale stainless steel public art sculpture designed by Jill Anholt Studio in Vancouver in collaboration with PFS Studio Landscape Architects for the design of the award-winning competition entry for a new urban park along the banks of the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. The form was inspired by the moving water of the Canal, and the work comprises a series of stainless steel shapes that bend and fold in a manner reminiscent of the flow of water itself. LEDs integrated into the front face of the sculpture exhibit a dynamic digital light show inspired by a timeless journey along the Rideau Canal.

The art work needed to be beautifully crafted, of a significant scale, robust enough to withstand the harsh Ottawa weather, able to accept an LED grid on its surface and conceal the electrical infrastructure within. The work is also designed to allow for the penetrability of people during the day, yet it appears as a large glowing dynamic urban screen at night time, visible from far away. For these reasons, a combination of HSS and plate stainless steel was chosen for the materiality of the work. The procurement of the stainless steel material as a special mill order was a challenge to meet within the timeline allowing fabrication and welding of the 64 cranked arms, each member being a unique element.

The challenge with this work was to use standard large-scale structural steel members in a unique and exciting way.  By creating subtle bends, slopes and kinks in the members, an organic form was created which appears lightweight and dynamic.  Integrating a custom LED display into the surface of the work required further innovation and creativity in order to not only integrate large numbers of data, and power lines and supplies invisibly into the structure, but also provide accessibility for maintenance purposes. The use of stainless steel with its reflective mirror-like quality lends itself naturally to the concept of ‘moving surfaces’ accentuated by its physical proximity to the Rideau Canal.


Project Team

Owner: City of Ottawa

Architect: Jill Anholt Studio

Structural Engineer: Fast + Epp

Fabricator: Solid Rock Steel Fabricating Co. Ltd.

Detailer: Solid Rock Steel Fabricating Co. Ltd.

Erector: Solid Rock Steel Fabricating Co. Ltd.