East Village developer opens first pedestrian-only street
At a public art unveiling ceremony today, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) - developer of the East Village redevelopment project - officially opened the community’s first pedestrian only street, Riverfront Lane, and revealed the neighbourhood’s second major public art installation featuring local contemporary artist Ron Moppett.
Described in the East Village master plan as a public mews designed specifically for the pedestrian, Riverfront Lane, measures 200 meters long by 17.6 meters wide and runs in a north/south direction connecting Riverfront Avenue to 6th Avenue SE along the east side of LRT tracks near land earmarked for development by Embassy Bosa Development. The pedestrian street is designed in the same material palette as RiverWalk Plaza and the area’s sidewalks, including features like: bike racks, bench-styled seating, lighting, and L-shaped pavers which offer a distinctive cobblestone effect to the streetscape.
“East Village is the only Calgary urban neighbourhood to have been master planned and certainly the only one, whose goal is to be the most walkable, livable and connected within the downtown core,” said Lyle Edwards, Chairman, CMLC. ”Riverfront Lane is the first of several pedestrian focused streets in the village designed to improve the public realm and quality of life for the neighbourhood’s residents, visitors and commuters. It is another example of the work CMLC is doing to connect neighbours and neighbourhoods on either side of the Bow River.”
The most notable amenity along Riverfront Lane, however, is an enormous 110’ long x 13’ high mosaic tiled wall, called THESAMEWAYBETTER/READER by Calgarian Ron Moppett. For his piece Mr. Moppett worked with German stained glass experts MAYER of MUNICH to translate a collage and painting into a mosaic glass tiled wall featuring more than 956,321unique tile pieces.
“THESAMEWAYBETTER/READER is intended to engage the passersby with a story of genesis,” said Moppett. “It’s five panels tell a story of a genesis of a place; a village and neighbourhood; a city and a province all presented in a manner which is, abstract, ambiguous, open, colourful and playful.”
In the case of the title of his installation, Moppett is representing history, progress, renewal and vision. In the opening reference to - THESAME - the artist is referring to East Village and the role the neighbourhood has played in the settlement and development of the City of Calgary. In reference to - WAYBETTER - the artist refers to the work Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) is doing to revitalize the neighbourhood. READER is a tribute to Mr. William Reader who was Calgary’s first Superintendent of Parks and Cemeteries (1913-1943). Reader was a visionary and one of Calgary's first great urban planners.
The installation supports the 2005 Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) and the 2009 East Village Master Plan, both of which envision arts and culture as the heart of East Village.
“The character of East Village will be defined by its commitment to art and culture,” said Michael Brown, CMLC’s President and CEO. “Public art and a vibrant cultural scene are critical to the health of this community; it is what makes the neighbourhood more inviting, more engaging and ultimately more desirable as a community in which you would choose to live.”
Moppett is one of Canada's leading contemporary artists and is often at the forefront of advanced research in the field of visual arts. His career includes a significant number of honours, exhibitions, publications and awards, including numerous Canada Council grants and the prestigious Gershon Iskowitz Prize in 1997. In addition to his painting practice, he has worked as a curator and a teacher. He has exhibited extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe. He lives in Calgary.
CMLC was aided in its artist and site selection by a seven-member advisory panel consisting of members of the RiverWalk design team, City of Calgary Public Art Program and Yves Trépanier and Kevin Baer of Trépanier Baer Gallery. THESAMEWAYBETTER/READER is second permanent public art installation for East Village, the first PROMENADE by British pop-artist, Julian Opie, was unveiled in April, 2012.