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Calgary relocating Wishing Well due to burn risks

Calgary relocating Wishing Well due to burn risks
CITY OF CALGARY—A rendering shows the new location of the Wishing Well art piece in Calgary. The piece is being moved due to burn risks caused by sunlight concentration.

CALGARY, ALTA.—A notable piece of art was a little too hot for Calgary to handle.

City officials are partnering with JEMM Properties, a local community developer, to relocate the Wishing Well public art piece to 950 McPherson Square N.E.

Installation will occur at a publicly accessible square outside the new multi-family rental living space and retail plaza that is planned for June 2022.

The Wishing Well sculpture is made of stainless steel and weighs 2,200 kilograms. It is 3.88 metres tall, 5.36 metres wide and four metres deep.

Designed by Living Lenses in San Francisco, the Wishing Well was originally installed at the Genesis Centre in 2012. Due to safety concerns related to concentrated reflective sunlight, the piece was removed. Since then, the city has worked with specialty engineers to mitigate risks.

“I am so pleased with the collaboration between government and private industry for a creative solution that benefits the city, JEMM Properties and Calgarians,” said Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra in a statement. “This was accomplished through a public-private partnership, which provided opportunities for cost sharing and additionally made certain the sculpture is in a safe new location. Very pleased to be keeping this important public art piece in NE Calgary and ensuring a rad home in a rad Ward 9 neighbourhood.”

To mitigate burning risks before the piece is moved, the city has installed a non-reflective coating to the interior of the sculpture. This eliminates the possibility for the inside curve of the sculpture to concentrate reflective sunlight. Samples of this non-reflective coating have been successfully tested in a controlled lab environment.

In addition, the new location and orientation of the sculpture greatly reduces sunlight reflections for nearby drivers and pedestrians.

By placing the Wishing Well on a 20-degree angle facing west-east, the sculpture will receive the least amount of sunlight exposure.

Sunlight exposure will further be minimized with the sculpture being placed next to a highrise apartment building.

“Relocating public artwork takes significant planning and relationship building,” said Jennifer Thompson, manager of arts and culture for the city. “This partnership with JEMM Properties is a good example of our new direction for public art and paves the way for more collaborations with our local private sector.”

Ahead of the installation, city officials are working with a local IT company to upgrade the interactive multimedia component that gives the sculpture its name and allows visitors to send the Wishing Well a text message which it converts into light and sound.

As each letter of the alphabet is assigned a different sound, each unique text message produces a distinct light and sound pattern.

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