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Millennium Library Park officially reopens

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The work has been done for weeks, but politicians have finally had a chance to declare the makeover of Millennium Library Park complete.

Mayor Sam Katz, Manitoba Local Government Minister Ron Lemieux and senior Manitoba MP Vic Toews officially reopened the plaza at the south end of the Millennium Library on Friday morning -- after a seven-year reconstruction.

The $2.1-million, long-delayed makeover includes a new wooden boardwalk, as well as pools that simulate freshwater marshes. Each level of government contributed $700,000 to the project.

Another $575,000 paid for the most expensive piece of public art in Winnipeg's history: emptyful, a 22,000-kilogram, stainless-steel fountain that looms over Donald Street.

The artwork, a creation of Vancouver architect Bill Pechet, will be illuminated by four bands of LED lights at night and uses both water and fog to make a statement about the abundance of space on the Canadian Prairies.

"The bottle is meant to be a symbolic container of emptiness. There's a hole in the bottom of it," the Edmonton-born, Vancouver-based Pechet said in June.

His Vancouver studio won a competition to create the public artwork as part of Winnipeg's role as Canada's cultural capital in 2010. Ottawa contributed $200,000 and the Winnipeg Arts Council covered the rest of the tab.

The design competition called for a large artwork along the Donald Street side of the Millennium Library property, Pechet explained.

"They wanted to create a strong edge to the plaza on the west side, because there are two (parkade) car ramps on Donald Street. They wanted to have a strong physical and environmental presence," he said.

Pechet created 12 different colour schemes to illuminate emptyful, whose stainless-steel frame has been blasted by glass beads to soften the edges and catch more light.

During the summer, when the fog and water elements will be operational, the fountain will be illuminated in blue, green and purples hues. During the winter, when the water elements won't be operational, the artwork will be lit up with reds, oranges and yellows.

History

Updated on Friday, July 20, 2012 at 11:26 AM CDT: updates

12:36 PM: adds new photos

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