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Rocky Ridge Recreation Facility Public Art

The artist team of Haddad l Drugan, with their established design team and large scale public art experience, are working at the new Rocky Ridge Recreation Facility to develop a permanent public artwork for the site.
Public Art Budget​ $1.148M
Year Approved​ 2013​
Artist​ Haddad l Drugan were chosen via open international call and selected by a project-specific jury of five Calgarians.
Expected Completion​ 2018
Artists' concept rendering
Flock - Artists' concept rendering

The Concept

The artwork for the facility will be responsive to the natural environment, creating memorable iconic experiences that reflect the identity of the community, landscape and facility. It includes two pieces that each tie to a significant natural feature of the site: the wetland and the knoll. 
The art for the knoll is composed of two monumental sculptures inspired by the changing shapes of flocks of birds, herds, the movement of Chinook clouds, horns, and torsos of bison and elk, the matrices of animal nests and dens, and mythical creatures. Named Ascend, the positioning of the sculptures in relation to each other will create compositional changes as the two forms combine into a whole and separate as one moves around or between them.

The wetland piece, Flock, will be located at a gathering spot with picnic tables, benches and an aspen grove overlooking the wetland. The v-shape the posts create is derived from the shapes of ascending flocks of wetland birds and the angles of the sun. When experienced from the positions within the sculpture, the art will create an embodied sensory experience of light, texture and motion. When seen from a distance, the art will compliment the wetland as a bird-like flock rising into the sky.

Ascend - Artists' concept rendering
Ascend - Artists' concept rendering

The Artists

Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan are an artist team who specialize in conceptually driven site-specific art. Inspired by a curiosity of nature, science, sustainability, community and history, they couple an aesthetic concept with a site’s unique dynamics. Their artworks integrate spatially with the site and are often activated by natural phenomena such as sun, sound, light, wind and water. Ultimately, the art engages users in a variety of experiences at different scales, vantages and conditions, making the art a continuously transforming experience that is deeply felt, memorable and completely unique to the site.

With over twenty public art commissions throughout North America, their work has been widely published and honored with a variety of awards. Their most well known works include Emerald City, an environmental artwork at the entry to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Sun Spot, an iconic set of sculptures for the Denver Animal Shelter, and Water Mark, large scale sculptures and earthworks that both control and enhance perception of flood events in Scottsdale, Arizona’s Indian Bend Wash.  Both hold Master’s degrees in landscape architecture and have also co-taught at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and University of Washington. 

The artists found the site and facility "incredibly inspiring".

"We are excited by the opportunity to create a unique artwork for the Rocky Ridge Recreation Facility and look forward to collaborating with everyone involved to realize its full artistic potential,” said Haddad and Drugan. 

Community Engagement 

As part of their concept development for this artwork, Laura and Tom met with the community to present and discuss their research and thoughts about the site. This process included a survey that asked the community about significant or unique features of the area, outdoor activities they would likely engage in at the recreation centre and favourite seasons and favourite outdoor spaces in Calgary. More whimsical questions asked people to imagine if a movie was made at the centre what genre it would be, and to draw or describe a mythical creature that might be discovered there.  

. The community response affirmed the artists’ ideas about locating the art outdoors, and embracing the site’s unique topography and natural environment, engaging views, sunlight and weather.
Ascend - Artists' concept rendering
Ascend - Artists' concept rendering
From the input received, there was a strong consensus that the art should embrace the natural environment, especially the striking views to and from the nearby hills

The artwork designed for the Rocky Ridge Recreation Facility will manifest the community’s goals of connecting people to the unique natural features and wildlife of the site, and creating memorable iconic experiences that reflect the community’s identity and values. The art will be spatially fused with the key natural areas of the site – the knoll and wetland – and the dynamic over time through changing seasons, weather and light conditions. The artwork’s responsiveness to the environment will make it a continuously transforming aesthetic experience that is deeply felt, ultimately becoming an integral part of the community’s essence.

Paul Sinclair was a community member who took part in this process as a member of the public art selection committee, and he says that he is "pleased to see this vision of the community rise up and become an iconic part of Calgary." He feels that the artwork will "not only enhance the facility but will also draw people to different locations around the entire site, to appreciate it from various viewpoints."