There is no doubt that the addition of Garnet’s work to the bridge has turned The Riverside Bridge into a landmark, at least during the day. At night, the impact of the installation fades into the twilight, its impact lost. So, in 2012 the Riverside BIA decided to get involved and illuminate the bridge, making it a true beacon for the neighbourhood. It took 3 years, more than 3,500 emails in support of the project , 10 corporate sponsors and 2 motions before city council, but they were able to get it done in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
At an estimated cost of about $600,000, design firm Mulvey & Banani Lighting was able to plan the illumination of the entirety of the bridge. Their challenge was to ensure that the bridge was visible not only along Queen Street, but from the Don Valley Parkway below, and to do it in such a way that didn’t detract from Garnet’s art, but enhance it and the structure upon which it resides.
The result is fantastic. Garnet’s work glows at night, and the entire bridge, from the apex to base is illuminated with colourful lights. The lighting palette is not static either. The LED lighting can be programmed to show different colours allowing it to be symbolically altered for different events throughout the year. When I visited with my camera, it was jovially lit up in shades of blue, red, and green.
It total it took 1,800 m of wiring, 450 m of conduit, 78 lights, and 250 hours of engineering to fully complete the work and it’s worth every ounce of effort. The Riverside Bridge is a conversation piece that the neighbourhood can be proud of. As the area undergoes a revival, residents can point to Eldon Garnet’s bridge as the event that got the ball rolling. The bridge is iconic, appearing on everything from t-shirts to posters.
All it took was a lot of effort and a little time.
The title for this piece comes from the Simon and Garfunkle song ‘Hazy Shade of Winter’:
“Time, time, time
See what’s become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities
I was so hard to please.”