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Watch: How Ron Arad Made One Bloor’s “Safe Hands”

AZURE films the making of Safe Hands, a soaring installation commissioned by Great Gulf and created by London architect Ron Arad, for the intersection of Yonge and Bloor in Toronto


Toronto’s busiest intersection now has the landmark it deserves. Safe Hands, a lustrous installation comprised of two stainless-steel towers, now soars an impressive 88 feet at Yonge + Bloor. The work was commissioned by Great Gulf to reside just in front of its One Bloor high-rise (designed by Hariri Pontarini) and envisioned by Ron Arad, the renowned Israeli-born, London-based designer and architect.

AZURE went behind the scenes to film Safe Hands’ making and installation. We peeked inside the Toronto fabrication studio – Streamliner, run by Stephen Richards – where the piece’s huge yet hollow cylindrical segments were being heated and crushed to assume the crumpled edges that would make the stacked towers seem to twist around each other without touching.

If you are familiar with the work of Ron Arad, you know that crushing steel is a source of fascination for him. Beyond creating furniture for Moroso and Driade and iconic buildings – including the Design Museum Holon – around the world, Ron is also known for his artworks that often involve squishing metal objects, most famously a bunch of Fiat 500 cars in his In Reverse series of installations. When award-winning developer Great Gulf commissioned him to create Safe Hands, they chose the right man for the job.

Arad worked closely with Streamliner (which provides custom fabrication for public sculptures large-scale and small) to realize his vision and make his renderings come to life. He visited the Toronto factory at the project’s outset and developed a rapport with Richards that would make their collaboration an intuitive one that could be completed even as the two communicated across the pond.

Its stainless-steel modules stacked together and painted vibrant hues at their joints, the tower is now a focal point at Yonge and Bloor Streets. And it’s also the subject of a Doors Open talk on Saturday (tomorrow) moderated by Azure Editorial Director Nelda Rodger and featuring Ron Arad, Great Gulf Executive Vice President Alan Vihant, Dragana Maznic of Dragana Maznic Design and Jane Perdue, Senior Planner Urban Design at the City of Toronto. Tickets to the talk, being held at St. Paul’s Bloor Street at 1PM, are free (first come, first served) and details are here.


Categories: Urban Update
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