Arty revamp for Osborne Bridge

Fanciful touches part of $18.8-M restoration


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SO when is a bridge more than just a dry way across a river? When it's also a work of art.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/11/2011 (4235 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

SO when is a bridge more than just a dry way across a river? When it’s also a work of art.

The two-year, $18.8-million Osborne Bridge rehabilitation project includes the usual steel and concrete.

What’s different is there is art embedded in the bridge that pays tribute to the Broadway and the Osborne Village neighbourhoods the bridge connects.

Eduardo Aquino and Karen Shanski by the motherboard-like image of the Roslyn
Boris MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Eduardo Aquino and Karen Shanski by the motherboard-like image of the Roslyn's floor plan on the redesigned Osborne Bridge.

The public got a preview of the $300,000 project Tuesday evening at the Gas Station Theatre on River Avenue.

Roadway construction on the east side of the bridge wrapped up this week. Two northbound lanes on the rehabilitated side of the bridge are open to traffic, along with two southbound lanes. The east-side sidewalk will reopen in the next few weeks. Work will continue on the centre portion of the bridge until mid-November.

Traffic will be rerouted when construction starts in April 2012 on the west side of the bridge.

Minimalist by design, the art on the east sidewalk cements the power of people and place. The west sidewalk will be a bookend to that tactile sense of history that the art brings to the bridge.

“The one thing that is very important for us was to give a sense of place to the art so the art was not just the fancy of an artist,” said Eduardo Aquino, one partner in the duo Spmb (S�£o Paulo-Manitoba) firm of artist-architects who created the project.

The firm has other projects underway in Thunder Bay and Toronto.

“That gives a sense of the history and life of Osborne Village itself,” Aquino said.

Aquino’s partner, Karen Shanski, outlined the three main components in an interview on the bridge. She said she and Aquino drew their inspiration from residents’ remarks about Village history in the city’s consultation process to create the text messages in the balustrades. The art project was created through a partnership between the city and the Winnipeg Arts Council.

The first component is LED lighting and text that are inscribed in the bridge’s handrails and balustrades.

“They refer to things that happened across time: ‘Herding the bison’ is one. Another is ‘Bombers’ first home,’ ” a reference to the old Osborne Stadium, now the site of the Great-West Life headquarters. “There’s another about food,” Shanski said.

Eight illuminated gateways set into the railings at either end of the bridge celebrate four important architectural markers nearby: the Manitoba Legislative Building, the Granite Curling Club, the Roslyn Apartment building and Evergreen Towers.

One panel set in the south side of the east hand rail resembles a motherboard from a computer. “It’s the architectural floor plan of the Roslyn,” Shanski said.

Contrasting tones of concrete lay out the street map of Osborne Village streets on the bridge sidewalk, spliced apart and set into a visible pattern, a little like hopscotch.

“Thank you for clarifying that,” Osborne Village resident Karl Surber said as Shanski and Aquino finished their presentation and explained the concrete pattern. “I’ve been watching the construction all summer from 22 floors up,” he said “And I wondered, What the Sam Hill is that design on the sidewalk?”

Surber’s comment drew chuckles from about 30 people — Village residents and architects — at the presentation.

The art on the bridge is designed to be 3-D, visible whether you are commuting over the bridge or underneath it on the river.

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