On October 3rd, 2023, Urbanize Toronto returned to The Well for a public art and placemaking tour, as artists and designers unveiled seven art pieces on the site that will help establish the community as Toronto’s newest artistic hub.
Described as a place to eat, shop, work, live and play, The Well is massive mixed-use development and a joint venture between RioCan REIT and Allied Properties REIT, located at Front and Spadina in Downtown Toronto. The unveilings will help enhance and expand the art-rich King West neighbourhood.
“Public art and placemaking is at the forefront of what The Well is about. It is a place for people from down the street, across the country, and around the globe to experience elevated retail, dining, and entertainment offerings. Presenting a range of public art on display will further enhance the King West neighbourhood and visitor experience,” said Anthony Casalanguida, General Manager for The Well.
SITE-RECLAIMED SCULPTURAL FURNITURE – Brothers Dressler
We began our tour in the lobby of The Well’s office tower located at 8 Spadina. The modern light-filled space is contrasted by elegant seating created using reclaimed wood from the industrial buildings that previously stood at the site. Crafted by local fine furniture makers Brothers Dressler, in collaboration with the interior design team at Hariri Pontarini Architects, the reclaimed wood furniture blends art, form and function, providing functional seating and a gathering place for visitors and building occupants.
HELLO VELO – Jenn Kitagawa
Located in the bike lobby of 8 Spadina, accessible just behind the main lobby, is a 44ft x 9ft mural designed by Jenn Kitagawa, an award-winning multidisciplinary freelance illustrator and artist based in Toronto and Montréal. Her creative explorations are unbounded by medium specificity—they are instead inspired by nature, the human body, and playfulness.
WELLINGTON PLACE PROMENADE - CCxA
We then made our way along the perimeter of The Well toward Wellington Street, following the CCxA-designed Wellington Place Promenade, which realizes a 100-year vision to connect Clarence Square to Victoria Memorial Park. The 18-metre wide, 450-metre long landscaped promenade features multiple seating areas and gathering spaces, and will soon be lined with restaurants occupying the podiums of the newly constructed residential buildings.
EMERGENCE – Dustin Yellin
We then proceed to the headlining art piece of The Well, designed by world-renowned artist Dustin Yellin. Titled EMERGENCE, the 2.75-metre tall sculpture is made up of individual cast metal components welded together. Building off Yellin’s Psychogeographies series, the art piece is his first ever cast metal sculpture and braids together three strands – the origin of the universe, the story of the birth of life, and the creation of computing – into tall human-like being. It is also the artists first-ever work in Canada.
"It’s been an honor to create a sculpture for The Well and Toronto,” said Dustin Yellin. “Public art is fundamental to making culture accessible and to building a more equitable world. I am delighted to play a small part in the artistic landscape of this city, and to know that curious minds may explore this piece for years to come."
ARCADIA EARTH - immersive environmental art exhibit
Making our way down to the lower-levels of The Well’s expansive retail galleria, we are given a sneak preview of Arcadia Earth, a multi-sensory journey that combines creative art installations and technology to inspire visitors to take action toward a more sustainable future. The 17,000 square-foot immersive experience showcases the beauty of the planet and the impact of human actions through a 10-room interactive adventure that includes projection mapping rooms, a curved LED screen tunnel and large-scale art installations. Arcadia Earth has also selected Canadian artist Benjamin Von Wong to design a room inside the exhibit, that will feature 3,000 pounds of electronic waste as one of several immersive experiences.
The exhibit has seen previous success in New York and Las Vegas and Arcadia Earth is making its Canadian debut as a permanent installation at The Well.
A NEIGHBOURHOOD STROLL - Vanessa Spizzirri
Located just off the retail galleria in a connecting alleyway called the East Lane, we find yet another art installation — A Neighbourhood Stroll, designed by local contemporary artist Vanessa Spizzirri. The artwork was created a vibrant and playful piece that showcased all types of dogs living together harmoniously in an urban landscape, also representation the diversity of cultures and ethnicities that make up the uniqueness of Toronto. The arrangement of the art piece also mirrors the logo of The Well seen in several spots throughout the site.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL HERITAGE MONUMENT – The Well in partnership with The Globe and Mail
Our final stop of the tour takes us back to the historical roots of site in which The Well was constructed on, which has a rich history of publishing. The location of Front & Spadina has been home to three significant publishers in Canada: The Toronto Daily Telegraph, The Globe and Mail and current office tenant, The Toronto Star. Located in the lobby of 8 Spadina, a preserved art-deco door frame that was salvaged from the original Globe and Mail building has been transformed into a monument that celebrates the fascinating publishing history of the site.
About The Well:
A joint venture between RioCan REIT and Allied Properties REIT, The Well is a bold reflection of Toronto's energy and diversity and an extension of the urban vibrancy of King West. Bordering Front, Spadina and Wellington, it is a mixture of retail, commercial and residential space in downtown Toronto that will draw approximately 22,000 daily visitors, including the approximately 11,000 residents and employees that will live and work at The Well. The design includes 1.2 million square feet of workspace and 320,000 square feet of retail and food service. It has 1,700 residential units spread throughout six residential rentals and condominiums, plus one iconic office building connected to a three-level retail base.
To learn more about The Well, visit www.thewelltoronto.com