THE LUMINOUS VEIL (Phase I) - Prince Edward Viaduct, Toronto
“The Veil’s luminosity – achieved through delicate membranes of stainless steel “strings” in mathematically proportioned rhythms – intercepts the fatal symmetry of bridge to valley. Itself a formulation of the transcendental sublime, it offers to the suicide precisely what the suicide seeks: to connect with the arc linking here with there… in a form that preserves the body.”
- Ian Carr-Harris
What image of life, what kind of feeling, rhythm, passion or sobriety, frivolity or fear, do you bring to the design of a suicide barrier? How do you bring life and death together in the same plane, where mourning and rapture, terror and beauty might be co-extensive?
The Luminous Veil is the winning public artwork in a two-stage national design competition done in collaboration with structural engineer Morden Yolles with Dereck Revington as prime consultant. It is conceived as a tremulous spatial fabric strung against the sky and running from bank to bank on both sides of the Viaduct. Designed as both a deterrent to suicide and as a place of heightened experience, it is born out of its unique topographic location and from the fabric of the bridge itself. Tensioned between a horizontal ‘V’ truss (suspended sixteen feet above the deck) and the balustrade, its oscillating double skin holds the fatal threshold between the sidewalk and the valley below. The parallel veils on both sides of the Viaduct create a lightly contained gathering space on the bridge, while spurring movement by car or on foot with ever changing rhythms and the play of light on its strings.