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Chinook Arc: Seven Years Later

The paradox of Chinook Arc was that it had to appear delicate and ethereal but also has had to endure repeat encounters, extreme weather conditions, and vandalism. I had a chance to visit seven years after it was installed and am happy to report that it has held up extremely well and become a community favorite.

In 2014, my company Creative Machines and my collaborator for this piece Blessing Hancock designed, built, and installed Chinook Arc, an interactive, illuminated sculpture inspired by local weather patterns in Calgary Alberta, Canada. The form is inspired by the Beltline Streetcar loop that once circled the neighborhood, as well as Chinook clouds that occasionally blanket the sky. The work's crisp edges and rounded curves are inspired by these two guiding influences. During the evening, the sculpture's enclosed space creates an immersive sound and color environment.

Seven years after Chinook Arc was installed, the monumental sculpture still looks as beautiful and sturdy as when it was completed in our studio. Chinook Arc is constructed of stainless steel and frosted acrylic, an incredibly strong and weather-resistant material that is easy to clean. The internal structure of the piece has been designed to last a lifetime. Since its debut, Chinook Arc's computer-controlled LED lighting and interactive sensor have required virtually no maintenance, and visitors can interact with the artpiece just as they did the day it premiered to the public.

The monumental sculpture has become a landmark in the community, operating as an energetic focal point where people congregate for events, stop on their evening walks, pose for photos or duck under to escape the noise of the surrounding city.

Visitors to Chinook Arc have complete control over the lighting through an optical sensor that projects the movements and colors it sees onto the sculpture.

Visitors can wave their hands, move colored objects or play a movie on any smart device in order to create their own unique light sequences.

Over seven years, graffiti has occasionally appeared, but been easily removed. A vandal broke one of the acrylic panels through a sustained attack with a metal bat. But the entire sculpture is composed of CNC-machined panels bolted together so this panel was easily replaced.


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