The five blocks of 108th Street between 99th Avenue and 104th Avenue — now known as Capital Boulevard — underwent a metamorphosis from a typical grey thoroughfare into a more urban-minded corridor, with new street furniture, tree-lined sidewalks, enhanced lighting, mid-block crossings, and landscaped traffic islands. One of the catalyst projects of the Capital City Downtown Plan, the vision also included five distinct public art installations, one per block, to be located within the islands. 

Looking north at a traffic circle along Capital Boulevard, image by Flickr user Mack Male via Creative Commons

Last week, The Art & Design in Public Places Program (The Places), announced the commission of these five new sculptures for the Capital Boulevard Legacy Public Art Project — Canada 150, in celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation. The pieces will serve as storytelling devices of Canada's past, present, and future. Each unique sculpture will reflect Canadian landscapes, culture, history, and our shared values, such as diversity, inclusion, reconciliation, and inspiring youth. The five finalists were selected from an invitational call put towards 48 Alberta artists. They are: Leo Arcand of Alexander First Nation, Sandra Bromley of Edmonton, Firebrand Glass (Julia Reimer and Tyler Rock) of Black Diamond, Ken Macklin of Gunn, and Voyager Art & Tile (Dawn Detarando and Brian McArthur) of Red Deer.

Before the Capital Boulevard redesign, image by Flickr user Mack Male via Creative Commons

The Capital Boulevard Re-Design serves as a complementary project to the Government of Alberta's recent restoration of the Federal Building and the creation of the new civic landmark Centennial Plaza. In addition to its responsibility as an integral part of Edmonton's transportation network, the revitalized avenue is one of the most picturesque in the city, with terminating vistas towards MacEwan University and the Alberta Legislature on either side. As the height and girth of each art installation will undoubtedly differ, it remains to be seen just what impact these structures will have on the ability of road users to have clear lines of sight towards these bookending focal points.

After the Capital Boulevard redesign, image by Flickr user Mack Male via Creative Commons

The project is funded by the Government of Canada, with matching investments from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the City of Edmonton. The Downtown Business Association and The Works Society, a not-for-profit organization that promotes the visual arts and design, have also provided support on the project.

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