SPMB/1 X 1 ARCHITECTURE
THE DREAM – SUMMARY OF DESIGN INTENT
Growing up in Canada most kids from Canada dream of playing in the NHL, and they also hope one day to be on a Stanley Cup team. That was a big goal. —Bobby Orr
THE DREAM is spmb1x1’s design proposal for the Lord Stanley’s Gift Public Art Competition. Working with four-time Stanley Cup winner Ab McDonald (#14) we have concentrated our collective effort to design a monument that will appeal to all the diverse constituencies associated with the sport of hockey and the public realm. We have embraced the spirit of the game during our creative process to achieve a balance between the long tradition of hockey with the Stanley Cup, critical urban aspects of the City of Ottawa and the Sparks Street Mall site, as well as the cultural qualities that inform contemporary monuments.
In 1950, Ted Lindsay of the Detroit Red Wings became the first captain who, upon winning the Cup, hoisted it over his head in celebration of the team’s victory. Hoisting the Stanley Cup has since become the iconic image of the Stanley Cup champion, a celebratory tradition every NHL hockey player strives to realize and of which every hockey player in the world dreams. Inspired by this powerful tradition, THE DREAM captures the iconic moment of a captain hoisting the Stanley Cup, the celebratory moment experienced by the winning team and their fans, and the deep-rooted desire of players and fans alike to be Stanley Cup champions.
THE DREAM is characterized by three main elements: the Cup, the Hands and the Field of Champions.
The most recognizable element is a six metre long by three metre high sculpture of the Stanley Cup. Made from polished stainless steel, it celebrates this famous and recognized icon in its purest form. The cup is presented close to the ground, inviting the public to touch it and reflect their image on its surface. The words of Lord Stanley of Preston, which announced the creation of the Challenge Cup, are prominently displayed and illuminated on each side of the cup (in both official languages) marking this significant historical moment. On the bottom of the cup the image of Lord Stanley is depicted in an illuminated halftone portrait to further strengthen his connection to the iconic trophy.
The sculpture of the Cup is hoisted above the ground by a group of fifteen larger-than-life solid bronze hands which have both a functional role in structurally supporting the Cup and a poetic role: these are the hands of champions, players, coaches and fans as they express with their reach, the desire to win the Stanley Cup. In this way THE DREAM articulates the idea that Lord Stanley’s Gift also belongs to the public, symbolizing everyone’s love and passion for the game. Lord Stanley’s Gift is for the winning team. Lord Stanley’s gift is for the people.
THE FIELD OF CHAMPIONS
One of the unique features of the Stanley Cup is that it is one of the only trophies in professional sport that has the names of the winning players, coaches, management and club staff engraved on it. As a result of this tradition, the Stanley Cup has evolved and transformed since its inception. There is currently no comprehensive public display of all of the winning teams, players, coaches, management and club staff. The final element, the Field of Champions, is a four-by-ten metre engraved black granite surface that will fill the entire ground level of the site, and will be the only physical monument in the world where the names of Stanley Cup winners will appear in one place. This black granite surface is flush to the ground-plane of Sparks Street Mall, inviting the public to approach, walk on and explore its engraved surface looking for their favourite teams and players. We foresee that in the coming years the names of future winners could be extended indefinitely along the mall. The Field of Champions will connect the monument to the city seamlessly, inviting all to commemorate this significant moment in our culture.
A SUPERIOR WORK OF ART
According to Italian critic Pier Paolo Tamburelli, the Stanley Cup is “by far the best trophy design in contemporary sports” excelling over other cups and trophies because of its “symmetrical, heavy, outspoken, and monumental” qualities. We have further reduced the Stanley Cup to its purest form by placing all the names of the Stanley Cup winners on the ground rather than on the Cup, an allusion that all the winning players, coaches, management and club staff are holding the cup up together with their fans. The tradition and deep aesthetic superiority of the Stanley Cup inspired us to design a monument that celebrates its aesthetics instead of imprinting a new interpretation of this internationally recognized icon. Any alteration of its form would signify a diminishment of its public value and acceptance in the culture. The valorization of the Stanley Cup’s form guarantees the timeless appreciation of the monument. We are therefore creating a monument to an icon that is already a monument.
THE MONUMENT IS HORIZONTAL
Being involved with the arts can have a lasting and transforming effect on many aspects of people’s lives. This is true not just for individuals, but also for neighbourhoods, communities, regions and entire generations, whose sense of identity and purpose can be changed through art. —Peter Hewitt, in Who will be transformed?
The traditional monument tends to separate the subject of commemoration and the public through the use of a plinth or base. This guarantees a natural imposition of the monument and its thematic subject over the visitors and passers-by. Contemporary history has created another paradigm for public space by conferring a more democratic access and use of streets, plazas, and malls within the contemporary city. THE DREAM offers a monument for full public engagement. Inspired by Ted Lindsay’s inaugural hoist, THE DREAM is presented horizontally, both altering the traditional idea of monument and strengthening the role of the hockey community in the maintenance of the Stanley Cup’s legacy. THE DREAM is both a monument inspired by tradition (through the faithful image of the Stanley Cup), and inspired by pop culture (the hoisting of the cup overhead).
THE DREAM fully integrates the monument into the site, creating relationships of responsibility within the urban territory, and converting the art into a social and aesthetic resource. Through materials and siting the project is sensitive to the existing character of the site, already inhabited by very significant architecture, urban art, monuments, and landscape. Pointing East toward the War Memorial, the main element of the project, the large stainless steel sculpture of the Stanley Cup is placed horizontally in a gentle upward inclination, holding the original Challenge Cup in cantilever. The monument’s East-West axis aligns with the former Russell House across Elgin Street (the hotel originally located beside the War Memorial, now demolished), as an allusion to the place where Lord Stanley dedicated the original cup to the game.
This is a monument for public interaction, whether through “selfie” photographs, searching for favourite players’ names engraved in the stone or simply allowing a special moment with the sculpture through the reflective material quality.
This is a monument to gather, to rejoice in victory and to celebrate the game of hockey. This is THE DREAM.
spmb1x1 accumulates numerous years of international public space making experience working with public art, architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design, navigating in the interstices between these design disciplines and the urban. Our approach values collaborative processes and on-going consultation with all stakeholders. Ideas develop from dialogue in order to achieve innovative thinking and ground-breaking directions. As artists and architects, we are aware of our role in the larger organizational structure—the city—and we understand that to practice in the public realm means that we do not default to subjective primers, but rather collaboration as a major force of the process. We approach projects holistically & comprehensively, holding a strong commitment to the advancement of quality, technological innovation and environmental sustainability in the design for public spaces. As public artists we operate within the context of contemporary art to identify public meaning within the relevance of today’s culture.