Yesterday, Concert Properties celebrated the completion of Spectrum, a major public art installation at their 88 Scott development in Downtown Toronto, with the creators of the work, Cecil Balmond and his associates, in attendance.

Spectrum, designed by Balmond Studio, at 88 Scott, TorontoSpectrum, hanging in the atrium at 88 Scott, image courtesy of Concert Properties

88 Scott is a recent, prominent contributor to Toronto's Downtown skyline. The 58-storey tower rises just to the east of the city's financial core skyscrapers. Designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects, the mixed-use building includes 5 storeys of commercial retail and office at street level, and 525 condominium suites on the floors above. While there remain some elements of the tower to complete, podium office tenants BDO (and Concert themselves) began moving in in April of this year. Residential occupancies are just beginning. 

88 Scott seen from Yonge Street, Toronto, Page + Steele, Concert Properties,88 Scott as seen from Yonge Street, image by Crag White

On hand to celebrate Balmond's work were Jane Perdue, Public Art Coordinator for the City of Toronto, David Podmore, Chairman and CEO of Concert Properties, and Kelly Wilson, Vice President of Toronto Development, Concert Properties. The three respectively spoke of the City's vision for public art and the design competition which Balmond won, Concert's history and ethos, and the grand plan for 88 Scott, Concert's largest ever development, and the contribution it has made to Toronto including beyond its walls to the acclaimed revitalization of Berczy Park across the street. Also at the event were Karen and Ben Mills of Public Art Management Ltd. who shepherded creation of the artwork from the initial competition process through to the work's completion.

Balmond, Perdue, Podmore, and Wilson unveil the plaque for Spectrum at 88 ScottBalmond, Perdue, Podmore, and Wilson unveil the plaque, image by Craig White

At ground level, 88 Scott is marked by the re-constructed limestone and granite facades of the 1951-built former home to Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance. At the northwest corner of Wellington and Scott streets, the first floor windows now reach all the way to the ground and are wider, thanks to every second pilaster having been removed. The space inside has been rebuilt as a limestone walled-two storey atrium, intended to soon be home to a café. It's in the lofty spaces of the atrium where Spectrum makes its greatest impression.

Looking up at Spectrum, designed by Cecil Balmond, at 88 Scott, TorontoLooking up at Spectrum in the atrium at 88 Scott, image courtesy of Concert Properties

Balmond's design for Spectrum uses over a thousand pieces of polycarbonate, cut into polygons, and precisely assembled with clips and wires. Each sheet has a 3M film for reflectively, while half also have a dichroic film which causes light to be split up into distinct beams of different wavelengths, meaning that the colours change as you walk by. A second section of Spectrum is found outside the atrium. Just to the west of the atrium is a glass-fronted section of the complex where the ground floor wall has been stepped back in anticipation of a restaurant and its outdoor patio. Hovering over the restaurant space is a canopy, the soffit of which holds Spectrum's shier side.

Spectrum, outdoor piece, designed by Balmond Studio, at 88 Scott, TorontoSpectrum's outdoor piece in the soffit at 88 Scott, image courtesy of Concert Properties

While the photo above reveals gray and brownish shapes in the backlit soffit, those darker sections reward those who get closer: they also have a dichroic coating on them, and change colour from brown to orange to red to purple to blue. A full set of photos can be found in UrbanToronto's dedicated thread for the development, but in the next image, Balmond stands below the work.

Cecil Balmond OBE and Spectrum, outdoors at 88 Scott, image by Craig WhiteCecil Belmond OBE standing below Spectrum, outdoors at 88 Scott, image by Craig White

Balmond spoke both to the crowd at the event and one-on-one with UrbanToronto following, about many qualities of the design. Throughly charming in the joy and enthusiasm with which he approaches his design work, Balmond had too much to say to contain it all in one story, so we will return with another one soon on Balmond's fascinating story the details of Spectrum. Tyson Hosmer, who oversaw the coding and fabrication of the work, also has lots to tell.

Spectrum, designed by Balmond Studio, at 88 Scott, TorontoPeering through the windows to 88 Scott's atrium, image by Craig White

For the meantime, the atrium at 88 Scott is not quite open for regular public visits yet, but you can enjoy Spectrum through the windows, most dramatically at night. Or, as mentioned, get closer as you walk past the canopy where the restaurant will be: it's a delightful addition to Toronto's jewel box of treasures.

Want to know more? Check out the 88 Scott database file, linked below, get in on the conversation in the associated thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

To request more info directly from 88 Scott Street click here