With its fresh-cut grass, picnic tables, and peaceful lakeside view, Sherbourne Common is one of Toronto’s best parks. Once a hidden gem, the waterfront park at Sherbourne and Lake Shore has become a staple spot for local residents and even those from across town as of late, as the surrounding community grows with each new condo and commercial space. Sherbourne Common itself was once an industrial area that has been impressively transformed (fun fact: it's the first park in Canada to integrate a neighbourhood-wide stormwater treatment facility into its design) and spans two city blocks.

Soon, park-goers will have another reason to visit the breezy piece of real estate, which sits in close proximity to the sand and pink umbrella-filled Sugar Beach (another major draw of the neighbourhood), thanks to the addition of a conversation-provoking piece of permanent, interactive art.

Following an international call for proposals, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer has been selected to install a new permanent artwork called Unfinished Arch – the first Canadian installation by the acclaimed Mexican-Canadian artist.

The artwork will be a nine-metre-tall incomplete arch that will extend over the southern lawn of Sherbourne Common, with one end of the arch left suspended in the air. Visitors will be enticed to complete the arch by interacting with its floating edge. Once contact is made with the floating end of the art piece, the arch will illuminate until the participant removes their hands from the piece. This means it essentially glows in the dark, with the lake as a backdrop, once the sun sets for the day (we can see the Instagram photos already).

“I am excited for my first permanent public art commission in Canada to be on Toronto’s waterfront,” said Lozano-Hemmer. “Unfinished Arch alludes to the familiar paraboloid shape found in many mid-century modern arches, and its perplexing, truncated nature gives way to a civic engagement: visitors may wish to ‘complete’ the arch by stretching their arms to ground it. The project was designed with accessibility in mind: visitors of all heights can reach the suspended end of the arch, while tactile pavement tiles and a locator tone help guide the visually impaired.”

According to Waterfront Toronto, the installation will be destination piece within the East Bayfront Master Public Art Plan, complementing existing art pieces in East Bayfront. An emerging waterfront neighbourhood, East Bayfront features a seamless blend of residential, retail, institutional and commercial developments, green space, and public space. Existing artworks include LIGHTKEEPER in Aitken Place Park and Light Showers in Sherbourne Common North. Unfinished Arch will be fabricated in Toronto by Eventscape and is anticipated to be completed in summer 2025. The hope is that the latest piece will become an interactive landmark.

“We’re excited to bring Unfinished Arch to the waterfront as the centerpiece of Waterfront Toronto’s public art master plan for East Bayfront,” said George Zegarac, President and CEO, Waterfront Toronto. “This new permanent art installation will anchor Toronto’s waterfront as a leading arts and culture destination, creating economic benefits through increased tourism and creating a vibrant community.”

Urban Living