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Back  |  October 03, 2018  | 


Coming Soon – New Public Art at Rocky Ridge YMCA

The installation work for Ascend is scheduled to start on Tuesday, October 2 and will continue until the end of November. Laura Haddad and Thomas Drugan from Haddad | Drugan are the artist team behind Ascend. With over twenty public art commissions throughout North America, Haddad|Drugan’s work is 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.

The call to artists that was sent out in 2013 was open to Canadian and international artists. The jury process chose who they thought was the best candidate.


The budget for the Rocky Ridge Recreation Centre Public Art Project (which produced the Flock and Ascend artworks) was the per cent for art resulting from the capital budget for the recreation centre construction.

How much did the artwork cost?

The cost of the Ascend artwork is approximately $911,000 CAD. This includes actual spend plus estimates for upcoming expenditures, so the final amount may be less. This does not include administration costs. The total public art project budget, including administration costs (which may not all be spent) is $1.49 million CAD for both Flock and Ascend.

What were the artists asked to do?

The artists were asked to create an artwork that would:

  • Be responsive to the natural environment, and
  • Create memorial, iconic experiences that reflect the identity of the community, landscape, and facility.

What is it supposed to be? This form was inspired by the changing shapes of flocks of birds ascending and descending; horns; the movement of herds; the curves of Chinook clouds; and animal nests and dens.

As people move around or between the sculptures, the two forms will appear to combine and separate, depending on the view. Each sculpture on its own may evoke the shape of a cornucopia or the horn of plenty. From another angle, the shape may look more like bison horns or mythical creatures.

The artwork consists of two monumental sculptures, each about 14 metres (45 feet) high, 6 metres (20 feet) wide and 10.5 metres (34 feet) long. The two sculptures are mirror images of each other.

Composed of an open matrix of stainless steel tubes set on larger stainless steel columns, the design creates visual structures that are both strong and light. Acrylic prisms will be placed at the end of some of the tubes, which will break the sunlight into spectrums of iridescent colour.

Through input from the community process, there was interest that the art should embrace the natural environment and views of and from the site. To achieve this, the hill on the northeast portion of the site was chosen as the most appropriate location to install Ascend.

The hill is a very unique and special art opportunity. It is believed that the artwork will be visible from surrounding locations and the new centre. An important goal was to draw people to the top of the hill, where they will be treated to not only a close-up experience of the art but also an immersive environmental experience and views out to the Rocky Mountains. The artwork will be a destination overlooking the recreation centre and inviting visitors.

Naming Contest

Details are still being worked out, but starting in fall 2018 The City is planning a contest where the public has the opportunity to propose a new name for the monumental sculptures on the knoll to the artists.

For details, visit website. Got questions? Call 311.

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This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.​