Monday, June 07, 2010


Papa in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada by Hal Ingberg

Photographs are courtesy National Capital Commission.

Artist and architect Hal Ingberg is best known for the facade of the expansion of the Palais des Congrès in his home city of Montréal, which he co-designed as an independent consultant architect in collaboration with the consortium Les Architectes Tétrault, Dubuc Saia et Associès. The apparently random grid of glass in red, orange, yellow -- well, all the colors of the rainbow -- enlivens an otherwise staid glass box, both from the outside and the inside. That the colored glass predominates at the southern public entry is important, for it creates a stunning environment of color that one moves through from the sidewalk to the exhibition halls within.

Ingberg's subsequent installations, such as Coloured Reflections and Dirty Realism extend the investigation of the effects of colored glass on experience and movement in different environments, in these cases a forest and fairly generic urban area bordering a gas station, respectively. His latest, Papa, transforms the busy intersection of Maisonneuve Boulevard and des Allumettières Boulevard in the Hull Island section of Gatineau, Quebec.

The public artwork sits along a linear park that winds its way through a residential neighborhood from Commission scolaire des Portages-de-l'Outaouais to the Canadian Museum of Civilization (designed by Douglas Cardinal) and the Alexandra Bridge that links Quebec and Ontario in Canada's National Capital Region. The street intersetion may seem unexceptional, but it is an important site in this larger context.

Ingberg's installation comprises narrow vertical strips of colored glass: yellow, blue, green and orange. A gradual rise from west to east towards the intersection then rises steeply to a spire that turns about ninety degrees to descend aburptly again. The form recalls Mies van der Rohe's famous Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper Project in Berlin, Germany. Ingberg has realized a folded, two-dimensional version of sorts that addresses the intersection, marks its location along the linear park and transforms the experience of passers-by, be they in car, riding a bicycle or on foot.