Great Gulf's 76-storey One Bloor East's has been the focal point of Toronto's Bloor-Yorkville skyline since the Hariri Pontarini-designed condominium tower reached its final 257-metre height back in late 2015. With the tower since completed and occupied, one of the last pieces of the puzzle was officially recognized on Friday morning, with the official dedication ceremony for the project's public art installation along the site's Bloor Street East frontage.

Safe Hands art installation at One Bloor East, image by Jack Landau

Designed by Israeli-born, UK-based designer and architect Ron Arad, the installation known as "Safe Hands" stems from the City's Percent for Public Art Program, which mandates that 1% of project costs must go towards public art, clearly visible at all times from publicly accessible areas.

Safe Hands art installation at One Bloor East, image by Jack Landau

The resulting sculpture consists of a pair of intertwined stainless steel multi-jointed fingers with ruffled surfaces in spots, and flashes of bright yellow and red where sections end. Rising 88 feet tall, the sculpture was designed by Arad, and produced locally by Stephen Richards of Streamliner Fabrication Inc. Originally planned as a dynamic sculpture with moving upper sections, the piece was redesigned as static when logistics proved too onerous (and likely prohibitively expensive to fix should it have broken at some point). That still manages to evoke the feeling of motion is a triumph of Arad's design.

Safe Hands art installation at One Bloor East, image by Jack Landau

The celebration took place in the building's yet-to-be-occupied two-storey, 75th floor southwest penthouse, offering attendees a chance to enjoy unobstructed aerial views of the city. Geoffrey Matthews, Vice President of Development at Great Gulf, opened the event by remarking on the installation's ability to “stimulate the imagination and discourse” before thanking other project principals who made the project and art installation a reality.

Geoffrey Matthews, Vice President of Development at Great Gulf, image by Jack Landau

Madeline Zito, Vice President of Public Relations at Great Gulf, drew attention to a video commissioned by Great Gulf and produced by Azure Magazine, giving a behind the scenes look at both the fabrication and installation of the piece. The video also gives the backstory for the installation's name, with Ron Arad stating that “it’s a very tall piece next to a very tall building, and we have to reassure ourselves that we are in safe hands.”

Ward 21 Scarborough Centre Councillor and Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson touched on the installation's significance at one of the city's premier intersections. “Ron Arad’s work has been featured in many cities around the world, and now Toronto is part of that coveted list of cities where his work is enjoyed, and it really speaks to us with respect to who we are, where we’re going, and the future of this great city.”

Ward 21 Scarborough Centre councillor and Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson, image by Jack Landau

Ward 11 University-Rosedale councillor Mike Layton (with daughter Chloe in tow) remarked on the penthouse’s amazing views giving a “sense of just how vast and beautiful Toronto is” before commenting on the amount of development in the city, that we “are building more than just new buildings, but also communities. Part of that is the partnership between the City and developers on producing not only beautiful buildings, but beautiful art.” 

Ward 11 University-Rosedale councillor Mike Layton, image by Jack Landau

Arad finished the remarks jovially, underscoring how naturally the creative process comes to him, and opening with “I feel a bit like a con man because my job was the easiest,” before extending gratitude to all those who made the project and Arad’s new installation a reality, particularly singling out the Canadian engineers and fabricators. 

Ron Arad, image by Jack Landau

Following the remarks, VIPs gathered at the base of the tower for the art installation's official ribbon cutting. Held on the eve of the 20th annual Doors Open Toronto, (the city-wide event was once again sponsored by Great Gulf), Safe Hands was included in the 156 sites, tours, and talks of public interest that were available to visit over the course of this past weekend.

Ribbon cutting for Safe Hands art installation at One Bloor East, image by Jack Landau

Additional information and images can be found in our database file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out our associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the field provided at the bottom of this page.

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Related Companies:  Baker Real Estate Incorporated, Bass Installation, Cecconi Simone, First Capital, Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini Architects, Isotherm Engineering Ltd., Jablonsky, Ast and Partners, Janet Rosenberg & Studio, Kramer Design Associates Limited, L.A. Inc., Rebar Enterprises Inc, TUCKER HIRISE Construction