We have a two Charlie Condos stories for you today. Purchasers at the Great Gulf condo 'Charlie' have been occupying their units for the past few months now, the building is registered, retailers are opening along the King Street frontage, and the giant flower pots are planted. At the same time the tactile new bronze sculpture anchoring the corner of King and Charlotte—Ballast—and its Canadian-born creator artist Jed Lind were feted. This is the Ballast story, see the condo story here.

Ballast by night, with Charlie behind, image by Craig White

Great Gulf is one of those developers who get the design thing, which is that not only is great design important if we want to build a great city, but that people simply want it: great design sells. At Charlie condos that meant putting together the right team for every aspect of the project, from architects Diamond Schmitt to interior designers Cecconi Simone to landscape architects Janet Rosenberg & Studio. It also meant finding the right artwork and artist for thr building's signature public art piece to anchor the corner of King and Charlotte streets.

Artist Jed Lind at the Ballast dedication party, image by Jack Landau

When Ballast was installed in front of the building several weeks ago UrbanToronto members were on the scene with their cameras pretty quickly, and our first story on the piece, Ballast, introduced you to it and to artist Jed Lind. This past Wednesday Mr. Lind was flown in from California and he and he artwork were celebrated. Alan Vihant, Senior Vice President at Great Gulf thanked those involved in the creation of the work, and then handed the floor to Lind. Lind also thanked the many people who helped, and we will come back to that, but first let's let Lind talk about the work.

Ballast by night, with Charlie behind, image by Craig White

"In 2004 I began a body of work that dealt with lighthouses, perception, and the unknown. During this period my mother suddenly passed away, and what was to be a conceptual body of work of disorientation and a lost frontier at sea became personal. The sea and ships that were the subject now became metaphorical for an escape that I sought. What followed was a series of life-size and model ships that were upturned and cut in various patterns, objects to be explored visually-marooned in various galleries and exhibition spaces.

Transformation is central to my work whether physical, emotional, or metallurgical. Ballast represents for me a transformation of the King St corridor which is so drastically different than my memory of it growing up. Ballast is modelled on the front end of a working lake boat, or Lakers as they are called. The boat is a nod to the blue collar working class that used to occupy the now vacated commercial and industrial spaces, while the geodesic pattern is a reference to Buckminster Fuller who inspired youth culture—in the late 1960s and 70s—to transform their existing circumstances through architecture. I hope Ballast will be a model for the younger generation who have taken over downtown en masse.

The second reason why this piece is so significant to me is that it is the first public piece I was awarded and the first that I applied for. Irene Szylinger approached me in the Summer of 2010 to consider making a proposal for a condo called Charlie. She said “I like your work, it would translate very well in large scale, and I would very much ike for you to put an application together for this commission. I don’t expect that you’ll be awarded it. It will be a really good exercise and there will be more opportunities.” Okay, so I took this as a challenge though I knew very little about how to run a public art project, I did know how to make large artworks.

Another artist advised me to read a particular book on public art and I spent every opportunity I had on a fly-fishing trip with my father to Montana reading through the book; in the back of a pick-up truck, under the Cottonwoods, in the shade along the Yellowstone River. It was a crash course for sure, but in the end I think I may have surprised Irene! Two years later I am really happy to share this work with her.

Finally, working on Ballast has been a great journey for me personally and professionally. My daughter has watched me work and labour over this project from her earliest moments, and as such it is dedicated to her and her amazing journey. I hope that my sculpture will inspire other children as another large bronze sculpture outside the AGO inspired me as a young boy."

Ballast in front of Charlie condos, image by Jack Landau

A terrific speech—it was appreciated by the attendees—and especially charmed us as Jed's daughter was there too. So let's now get some background by going back to the introduction and thank-you's. This is Alan Vihant speaking;

"Public art is important for this city, and important to me personally. In the collective memory of any city there are buildings, there are places, there are landscapes, and public art is an important part of that. We've been getting better with public art in Toronto. Public art creates moments for people. This piece will create those for not just the people who live in Charlie, but also for those who live and work in this community and pass by every day. We see Ballast as a wonderful addition to Charlie and to the community."

Architects Steven Bondar and Daivd Dow of Diamond Schmitt at the Ballast dedication party, image by Jack Landau

"There are many people who helped bring ballast together, here and elsewhere, including the Great Gulf team including Geoff Matthews and Dragana Maznic, Tucker Hi-Rise who built Charlie and installed Ballast, the art fabrication team at Heavy Industries in Calgary are represented here today as well. Our art consultant Irene Szylinger who has overseen every step along the way, organizing the brief, selecting the jury, all the way through. Our architects David Dow and Steven Bondar from Diamond Schmitt who created this building and Donald Schmitt who was part of the art selection team. Janet Rosenberg who through the landscaping helped create the setting for Ballast. Structural engineers from RJC and Able Engineering who created the lighting for Ballast. Thanks also to the City of Toronto's Public Art committee headed by Jane Perdue of City Planning and Urban Design who worked closely with us. Councillor Adam Vaughan's office who helped push us to make sure that public art would benefit the community we are building in."

Alan Vihant, Senior Vice President at Great Gulf, at the Ballast dedication party, image by Jack Landau

"As many of you know Jed is a Canadian-born artist now residing in LA, and we welcome him here today along with his daughter."

With that Mr. Vihant turned the floor over to Lind who thanked Alan and Great Gulf for the opportunity and the support they provided in making Ballast. "They truly understand the importance of public art and giving back to the city." Lind thanked those mentioned above and added MST Bronze who assisted onsite. He ended his thanks by singling out "Don Schmitt and Janet Rosenberg for creating such an impressive and sophisticated building for my work to stand before."

At the Ballast dedication party, image by Jack Landau

Want to know more about Charlie? Click on the dataBase entry linked below, choose one of the Forum threads to get in on the discussion, or leave a comment here!

Related Companies:  Baker Real Estate Inc., Cecconi Simone, Diamond Schmitt Architects, Great Gulf, Isotherm Engineering Ltd., Janet Rosenberg + Studio, Ketchum, RJC Engineers, TUCKER HIRISE Construction