Toronto’s busiest intersection now has the landmark it deserves. Safe Hands, a lustrous installation comprised of two stainless-steel towers, now soars an impressive 88 feet at Yonge and Bloor. The work was commissioned by Great Gulf to reside just in front of its One Bloor high-rise (designed by local firm Hariri Pontarini) and envisioned by Ron Arad, the renowned Israeli-born, London-based designer and architect.
AZURE went behind the scenes to film Safe Hands’ making and installation. We stepped inside the Toronto fabrication studio – Streamliner, run by Stephen Richards – where the piece’s huge, hollow cylindrical segments were heated and crushed, by a custom-built squishing device, to assume their crumpled edges. No two pieces alike, the elements would later be stacked to create a duo of towers that twist around each other without touching.
If you are familiar with the work of Ron Arad, you know that crushing steel is a theme he returns to again and again. Beyond creating furniture for Moroso and Driade and iconic buildings – including the Design Museum Holon – around the world, Arad is also known for his artworks that often involve flattening metal objects, most famously a bunch of Fiat 500 cars in his In Reverse series of installations. When award-winning developer Great Gulf commissioned him to create Safe Hands, they chose the right person for the job.
Arad worked closely with Streamliner (which provides custom fabrication for public sculptures large and small) to realize his vision and make his renderings come to life. He visited the Toronto factory at the project’s outset and developed a rapport with Richards that would allow their collaboration to become an intuitive one that could be completed even as the two communicated across the pond.
Its stainless-steel tubes welded together and painted vibrant hues at their joints, the tower is now a focal point at Yonge and Bloor Streets. And it’s also the subject of a Doors Open talk on Saturday (tomorrow) moderated by Azure Editorial Director Nelda Rodger and featuring Ron Arad, Great Gulf Executive Vice President Alan Vihant, Dragana Maznic of Dragana Maznic Design and Jane Perdue, Senior Planner Urban Design at the City of Toronto. Tickets to the talk, being held at St. Paul’s Bloor Street at 1PM, are free (first come, first served). Details are here.
AZURE filmed the making of Safe Hands, a soaring installation commissioned by Great Gulf and created by London architect Ron Arad for the intersection of Yonge and Bloor in Toronto.