Olympic Oval Public Art
Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
Photos/ Rafael Santa Ana & Megan Paris-Griffiths
Sight Works is a collaboration between the Vancouver based Sculptor Elspeth Pratt and Campos Leckie Studio, and was the winning entry for the Public Art Competition Site Furnishings: Dike Works and Related Elements.
The competition entry was part of a larger dike revetment project commissioned in 2009 under the development of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Precinct at the Richmond Skating Oval. The project was sponsored by the City of Richmond to create an integrated art/design/landscape piece that would operate as an integral component of a larger art and landscape experience across the entire Richmond Olympic Oval site, attracting visitors and dike trail users to the water’s edge. Accordingly, one of the project requirements was to accommodate large groups of up to 200 people while also, as part of the legacy amenities program, making provisions for solitary river viewing.
Sight Works responds to the fact that, unlike the other two arms of the Fraser River, the Middle Arm was not industrialized due to it’s relatively shallow depth. Accordingly, the iconography of the project is an abstraction of the geological processes of the Middle Arm of the Fraser River: the deposition of alluvium, as well as the inexorable slow downstream flow of material and accumulation in the form of logs and debris along the water’s edge.
The project is comprised of four main elements: a long low alluvial concrete wall and three unique viewing platforms. The three hundred and eighty five foot alluvial wall is oriented along the edge of a pedestrian walking path, mimicking the deposition pattern of alluvium, and perspectivally distorting the measured distance as it diminishes gradually in both height and width over its entire length. The viewing platforms are oriented perpendicular to the walking path and have been constructed to reflect the accretion of material that accumulates along the river bank. Each of the three platforms - Bridge, River, and Shore - has been oriented to focus on the component parts of the Middle Arm of the Fraser River.