Many thanks to Brent Richter and Mike Wakefield from the North Shore News for this article about ‘MERGE’ #mergesoundwall.
“For too long, it’s been a traffic jam through a construction site. But the bottom of The Cut is taking on a whole new look.
Artist Rebecca Bayer is putting the final touches on Merge, a 366-metre-long shock of colour stretching along Highway 1 between Mountain Highway and Fern Street.
It is one of the final pieces of the $200-million Lower Lynn Improvement Project, intended to shield the Inter River neighbourhood from highway noise. But it’s also now likely the largest single piece of public art on the North Shore.
“An acoustic barrier wall could be very mundane and boring, but my hope with the bright colours is that it is more interesting and vibrant from both sides. It can be experienced at a slow pace, but also a fairly quick pace if you’re driving along the highway, and it sort of blurs together as you drive by,” she said. “I get pretty excited by public art that really blends with the infrastructure or architecture, and it just becomes part of something that was already going to be there anyway.”
Bayer chose the 20 different colours specifically because they are found in the flora, fauna and landmarks from the Lynn Valley area. Bayer consulted with the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre to match colours with individual species like the red-backed salamander, Pacific chorus frog and licorice fern. She then tried out different permutations to come up with the pattern that exists there today. “There is quite an amazing pocket of nature right there,” she said. “It made sense to try to work with the natural palette in some way.”
On the Inter River side, the names of the species appear on some panels, which Bayer said she hopes will enable Merge to educate as well as beautify.
Lori Phillips, the District of North Vancouver’s public art officer who helped in the selection process of Bayer for the project, said it does both. “Merge is a perfect example of the magic that can happen when artists are added to infrastructure projects. Suddenly a rather understated sound wall is transformed into a dynamic public artwork that is free and accessible for everyone to enjoy,” she said. “The District of North Vancouver’s public art program, was thrilled to partner with the [Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure] on this project and we know that the residents of Lynnmour, along with the thousands of daily commuters and travellers on Highway 1 will enjoy its masterful merge of colour and story, for years to come.”
Even as sound barriers/art canvasses go, the panels are a “world-class sound attenuation product” designed to neutralize sound, not just bounce it away from residences, said Mark Hersey, managing partner of Solid Rock Fencing, the company contracted to install the 623 panels.
Today, there are just a few gaps in the wall, which will be filled when the final panels arrive from Europe, Hersey said.
The final components of the Lower Lynn Improvement Project, including combining the Main Street and Dollarton Highway on-ramps into one with signalized traffic control, are expected to come online later this fall.”
Special thanks on this project go out to:
Jay Porter, BC Transportation and Infrastructure
Erin Moxton, North Vancouver District
Lori Phillips, North Vancouver Recreation & Culture
Tamsin Guppy, Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre
Rainer Kraft, KCI Kraft Consulting Inc.
Mark Hersey and Jason Hardy, Solid Rock Fencing Ltd.
MERGE (2021) Rebecca Bayer, 356m x 4m, Powder-coated Aluminum Acoustic Panels,
Trans-Canada Highway @ Keith Road, Lynnmour, District of North Vancouver, territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations
It’s been another productive week at MERGE. We want to offer a special thanks to Mark Hersey, Jason Hardy and the team from Solid Rock Fencing for their special attention to detail and careful installation of the 623 colourful acoustic panels. This project is starting to transform the landscape and has already made a huge difference in reducing the traffic noise level in the neighbouring Lynnmour community.
It is all coming together very nicely and everyone is excited to see the wall complete in the next few weeks.
MERGE (Lynnmour Sound Wall – 2021), will feature twenty naturalistic colours which represent a selection of local flora, fauna and landmarks specific to the Lynnmour community and area. Merge stands at 4m tall and spans 356m along the newly reconfigured section of the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1) between Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing and Lynn Creek. The acoustic dampening, sound wall sits between the highway and the residential neighbourhood along Keith Road and is clad in colourful powder-coated aluminum panels. The panels have been carefully configured to produce a giant, site-specific spectrum designed to be viewed by both passing traffic and residents in nearby communities.
On the anniversary of our COVID-19 life, we want to share some feel good news from 2020. With proceeds from the sale of “Come Together” (2020), we were able to donate back to the St. James Town Community Corner, near TTC Sherbourne subway station. “Come Together” is a bespoke, glazed ceramic tile mosaic (0.6m x 2.0m) commissioned by Louis Vuitton.
“Come Together” (2020) glazed ceramic tile mosaic (0.6m x 2.0m) Louis Vuitton. Yorkdale, Toronto.
The St. James Town Community Corner was one of the hosts to the original community pattern-making workshops that Spacemakeplace held in 2018 to gather pattern inspiration for the TTC mosaic. The donation from Spacemakeplace will be used in a program that offers employment to local refugee women to prepare meals for the elderly and vulnerable in the community over the COVID-19 crisis.
Store designers for Louis Vuitton contacted Rebecca last spring interested in acquiring a new work to be included in the Louis Vuitton international art collection. “Come Together” (2020) is displayed alongside new artworks by Toronto-based street artist BirdO, and Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, at the new Louis Vuitton Canadian flagship store located in Yorkdale Mall, Toronto.
In Deanna Pecaski McLennan’s kindergarten classroom, math isn’t limited to a specific block of time. It’s built into the environment and inseparable from everything her young students do. All of the math is infused with a sense of exploration, wonder, and joy.
Our public art project is mentioned in the chapter titled “Art Beyond the Classroom Walls”. “The Whole is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts” is a series of 39 mosaics located throughout TTC Sherbourne station welcome commuters in the universal languages of colour and geometry.
Thank you to Deanna Pecaski McLennan and Stenhouse Publishing for reaching out to us.
In December 2019, after months of careful planning and preparation, everything was ready for the final installation of the Maple Ridge Community Mosaic. The installation of the three mosaic walls took seven days.
When all the custom tiles had been extruded, baked, glazed, re-fired and ready, we began assembling the Maple Ridge Community Mosaics.
The mosaics are prepared in small sections that are numbered and correspond to coordinates on a large map. Each of the ~14,500 custom made tiles are laid by hand, carefully following the design and using special templates to make sure that the tiles are evenly spaced. After each section has been laid, it gets checked, covered with a layer of clear face tape, coded, mounted to a protective card and boxed ready for transport to Maple Ridge.
The Maple Ridge Community Mosaic is installed in three locations inside the newly renovated Maple Ridge Leisure Centre; the main reception area, the waiting area outside the change rooms and also at the shower wall on the main pool deck. Careful measurements are needed throughout the entire design and installation process to make sure that all three mosaics fit as precisely as possible onto the renovated walls.
We worked closely with Interstyle Ceramic + Glass to develop unique ceramic glazes to match the twelve Maple Ridge Community Mosaic colours as closely as possible. The twelve colours used for this project were selected from the palette of landscape colours we received over Fall 2018 from public photo submissions.
Mixing 12 bespoke colour glazes and firing the ~14,500 tiles needed is a complicated task and Interstyle are industry experts.
Interstyle is a family owned and operated tile manufacturer located in Burnaby, BC. They have been in operation since 1977 and are among the only tile manufactures remaining in Canada.
The Maple Ridge Community Mosaic will use equilateral tiles specially made for this project from Earthenglass, a tile produced from powdered recycled glass and locally sourced clays.
Following the public pattern making workshop series held across the City of Maple Ridge during February 2019 we returned to our studio to work on the next stage of the Maple Ridge Community Mosaic, the Design Phase.
We had collected and documented approximately 540 unique triangular patterns during the public workshops and now it was time to study them all and consider ways in which we could blend as many of them together to form a cohesive whole.
During the workshops we had encouraged participants to use groups of themed colours that represented the seasons and this helped us arrange different patterns together. Over a six week period we tested hundreds of combinations of patterns and colour combinations before we settled on the final design.
Once the final design was approved by the City of Maple Ridge we were ready to begin the next phase: fabrication…almost!
All of the tiles for the Maple Ridge Community Mosaic need to be custom made for this project. To make sure we ordered the correct numbers of coloured tiles to cover the 410 SF wall spaces inside the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre each of the 14,000+ tiles in the mosaic had to be counted first!
The Maple Ridge Leisure Centre is an important hub for the neighbourhoods it serves. Our new artwork intends to reaffirm the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre as a shared place where the wider community interacts daily.
The Maple Ridge Community Mosaic is created from content gathered from artist-run community workshops. Our role, as lead artists, is one of interpreters of the research and to create a new patterned design that represents the unique fabric of the local Maple Ridge community. Traditional and contemporary patterns and motifs created by local people have been woven together and combined to form the final artwork.
In February 2019 we held community pattern making workshops with local groups at:
● Saturday 9 February
○ Maple Ridge Public Library (Repair Cafe)
● Wednesday 13 February
○ Maple Ridge Leisure Centre (Parents and Child Playtime)
○ Harry Hooge Elementary School
● Thursday 14 February
○ Chartwell Willow Manor
○ Maple Ridge Public Library
● Monday 18 February
○ ACT Arts Centre (Family Day)
● Tuesday 19 February
○ Kanaka Elementary School
● Thursday 21 February
○ Kanaka Elementary School
○ Thomas Haney High School
During these public workshops we collected and documented approximately 540 unique patterns. We had a wonderful turn out and we collected amazing patterns from local people of all ages. For more information and images about the workshops and the project see our Facebook page.
Maple Ridge community members were asked to submit photographs of their local landscape to the Maple Ridge Community Mosaic Facebook and Instagram pages to help inspire the colour palette for the new public artwork to be located at the newly renovated Maple Ridge Leisure Centre.
Based on the ~150 public submissions we received over Fall 2018, we selected twelve representative colours to be used for the project.
The thousands of cardboard tiles we made for the following community pattern making workshop series were carefully matched to these same twelve colours.
We organized the mosaic colour palette into smaller, seasonally-themed palettes and then rotated through the palettes at each public workshop to ensure that the all the colours were balanced and would work well together.
Thank you to everyone online who submitted their beautiful images of sunrises, sunsets, alpenglow, winter mornings, giant forests, lush meadows, sublime lakes, mighty rivers, and native wildlife and wildflowers. The images below show how your images helped to inspire the mosaic colour selection.
The colours used for the new Maple Ridge Community Mosaic are inspired by the colours of the local Maple Ridge landscape.
Using posters, Facebook promotions and the Instagram hashtag #mapleridgecommunitymosaic we invited community members to submit photographs of their favourite seasonal colours.
Over the Fall of 2018 we received ~150 beautiful images.
From these landscape photos we created a new colour palette for the custom mosaic tile glazes.
More to come…