Sculptors recycle First Canadian Place marble
Toronto builders chose the same Italian marble for First Canadian Place as Michelangelo used for carving his masterpiece David.
Now some of the tower’s stone is to be turned into sculptures as well.
The owners donated 1,600 marble slabs worth $250,000 to a Toronto artists’ group, which publicly begins reworking them Friday into statues and murals.
“The whole idea of creating art from recycled material prompted us to do it,” says Zoya Balija, owner of Leonardo Galleries and a member of the group, Toronto Art Visions.
“This marble is one of the best — Carrara marble from northern Italy,” she said Wednesday. “Its quality is known worldwide.”
The exterior marble panels from Canada’s tallest office building are being removed one by one before they fall off, as one did three years ago — plunging 51 storeys onto a third-floor roof without hitting anybody.
In the 35 years since the tower opened at King and Bay Sts. in 1975, hot and cold weather extremes have caused some panels to warp.
A total of 45,000 slabs are to be removed, replaced by glass resistant to thermal stress, the owner Brookfield Properties Corp. has said. The work began in late 2009 and is to be completed next year.
Each marble panel weighs 90 kilograms but each is slim. Sculptors usually start with a block of stone but these measure four centimetres thick, or 1.5 inches.
“We laminate marble panels to make a block,” says Toronto sculptor Francisco Lostalo, Toronto Art Visions president and the main mover behind what he calls “the world’s first international sculpture symposium to use recycled marble.”
For the gathering, he removed 35 years of pollution-grime from the stone and cut the panels to smaller sizes before gluing them into blocks. Five artists from Canada and Costa Rica are to work outdoors in full public view on the building’s west side.
They are to create medium-sized sculptures and a five-panel painted mural, to be displayed at Leonardo Galleries, 133 Avenue Rd., as completed. The exhibition is to run until Sept. 4, with an opening reception Aug. 26, 6:30-9 p.m.
Next year, Lostalo plans an encore event with full-size panels and 18 artists from more than half a dozen countries.