Minoru Park to get new public art

City of Richmond is spending $350,000 on a pole and rain cloud

An accessorized pole and a sculptural rain cloud will cost taxpayers $350,000 after city council approved a pair of public art projects Monday for the future Minoru Complex.

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Artist Sheila Klein will design “Multipole,” an 18.3-metre (60-foot) pole that will stand in the centre of a circular pavement pattern outside the main entrance to the pool and seniors centre building that’s now under construction.

Visible from all directions, a finial—a decorative feature—and light beacon will sit atop the six-storey pole and “animate the day and night sky and sight lines to and from the building,” according to the city’s public art planner Eric Fiss. The $250,000 aluminum pole will be designed to accommodate accessories, such as a flag, mirror ball, maypole ribbons, banners, lights or even a fish.

According to Klein, the artwork will support Minoru Park’s role as a signature park.

“The artwork establishes a unique identity for the Minoru Complex working in concert with the site architecture and urban realm design,” she said in her proposal.

Councillors Chak Au and Carol Day voted against the project. Au said he wanted Vancouver International Airport to be consulted given the height of the structure. Approving the art without getting feedback from airport officials would be like “putting the cart before the horse,” he said.

Staff noted the pole will be nearly twice the height of Minoru complex, but no taller than poles that support field lights.

“The lights that we put into Minoru are actually over 60 feet and nobody has complained about those,” said Coun. Bill McNulty, who was on the yes side of the 7-2 vote. “I don’t know where people are coming from on this.”

Au also said a more detailed accounting of the cost is needed, particularly for pole accessories, which ring in at $70,000.

“Is that justifiable? Is that the right amount? The figures are very general,” said Au.

The 110,000-square-foot $80-million Minoru Complex is scheduled to replace the Minoru Aquatic Centre and Minoru Place Activity Centre in 2017.

A second public art project, priced at $100,000, also earned city council’s support Monday.

Artists Germaine Koh and Gordon Hicks will design “Errant Rain Cloud”—a sculptural rain cloud that will be suspended above the leisure pool inside Minoru Complex.

Every few hours, a brief gentle rain shower will fall from the cloud into the pool, bringing a “whimsical element to the pool area” while illustrating the natural cycle of water in our atmosphere, according to the artists.

The artwork will assist in defining a distinct aesthetic between the meditative, soothing environment of the hot tub/sauna area and the fun, exciting environment designed for children,” noted Fiss, the art planner.

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