site visit

A rooftop visitation to the location of a mount for SOLAR FLARE (Dec. 2, 2013)

Hiccups and complications. It’s winter in Canada. Why wouldn’t it snow? Better yet, why wouldn’t it snow several feet?

SOLAR FLARE is a suspended piece, dangling precariously above the heavy pedestrian traffic of Stephen Avenue. I say “dangling precariously” because that is the way it is seen by civic bodies as they cautiously consider potential disasters involved with large spikey objects created by artists.


We’ve been very fortunate to work with Justin Williams (Silver Tree Structural Ltd) a brilliant and flexible engineer who’s taken our designs with a grain of salt and added a great deal of security. To deal with winter wind and snow loading – entities close to our minds on cold weeks such as this – Justin recommended eight hang-points for the structure, suspended from nearby buildings on Stephen Avenue.


Of course, this is more complicated than it sounds. For starters, most of the buildings on Stephen Ave have heritage status, which means that we can’t mess with facades or anchor directly into their surfaces. With this in mind, each mount is free-standing, weighted down by 900 lbs worth of concrete slabs.


Rooftop above the Art Gallery of Calgary

Next in the line of concerns is that businesses (understandably) are worried about that amount of weight on their ceilings (again, heritage buildings). Two things make this easier to negotiate: the first is that, working with an engineer makes us vicariously aware of standard building codes, and we can confidently say that this weight is well within those limitations. Secondly, when you’re working with an engineer, people take your intentions seriously. That stamp becomes an excellent short cut towards mutual understandings – an extremely valuable thing.


Climbing the fire escape onto the AGC rooftop


Consulting the plans


Working on the rooftop of the Art Gallery of Calgary last weekend was a breeze. The weather was wonderful (practically balmy!) and it wasn’t even that difficult dragging eighteen 2x6s and a 6×6 up the fire escape ladder. This week, however, is something else…


Justin and Wayne inspecting one of the rooftop mount locations


Roof of the Art Gallery of Calgary (note the wooden 6×6 jutting up from the right edge of the brick frontage)

As the snow falls, the likelihood of SOLAR FLARE being installed on time grows less and less certain. Tomorrow, we plan to install one half of the roof mounts with some pals, but it’s fairly certain we’ll belate the installation of suspended piece until this weekend when the temperature falls back above -20 C.