Oxford builds world-class art into the fabric of its buildings

Oxford Properties put a final touch on downtown Calgary's Centennial Place Thursday with the unveiling of a 1,200 square foot work of art by native Calgary artist Christian Eckart.
Officially named Dichroic Glass Hexagonal Perturbation, the multi-media abstract explodes with kaleidoscopic light, showing ever-changing colours as light hits the glass and aluminum structure from various angles.
The triptych – which means three pieces – is better known by its hockey-influenced nickname Hat-trick, Eckart said in an interview from his home in Houston. “We thought it was appropriate for a hockey-crazed city.”
Art is evident in buildings owned by Oxford's Properties and is also a way for the Canadian company to show its support for arts in Canada, Michael Turner, Senior Vice President, told Property Biz Canada.
“If the artists are happy with the support we are giving them, and we are certainly happy with the value that the artwork brings to the properties, then it certainly is a win-win,” Turner said from Toronto.
This is for the long term, forever
Turner said it is important for developers to consider using art in prominent spaces as a way to add to the experience of those who use the building.
“We had to make some structural changes for the art installation, but for us this is about making sure that the esthetics are there for the enjoyment of those in the building,” he said. “This is for the long-term, in fact it is forever. It is an important component for the overall enjoyment of the buildings.”
Integrating art in the construction plans makes it part of fabric of the building, he said.
Eckart, the abstract artist and sculptor commissioned to do the piece, applauds Oxford for showing support for artists across Canada.
“The space itself is so spectacular and monumental. You actually can't find space like that even in the best museums,” Eckart said. “I am really grateful to Oxford … I also have a piece around the corner in one of their other properties.”
Eckart was awarded the commission after competing with five Canadian artists from various regions of the country and selected by an internal committee at Oxford.
Eckart's works adorn buildings and museums
Eckart is known internationally for both his paintings and multi-media representations, which adorn collections, public spaces in buildings and prestigious museums.
Creating a lasting legacy of art in his hometown was special for the artist, especially in the Centennial Place property, a trophy asset that was developed by Oxford Properties in the heart of Calgary's central business district. The LEED Gold standard building offers more than 1.3 million square feet of AAA-class office space and amenities.
Eckart said the piece fits well with the exacting standards of the building complex.
“The piece itself is like the construction of a painting,” Eckart said in describing the series of 1,500 handmade parts including 140 pieces of laminated glass triangles framed by extruded aluminum, reflecting a kaleidoscope of colours.
“It will be very responsive to the lighting conditions, it is one colour in reflection and another colour in transition as the dichroic glass changes colour from different angles. It will have the colour of a seriously intense soap bubble floating in the air in front of you. And as you walk through at various times of the day, the colour will be changing.”
Oxford Properties also supported the Alberta College of Art + Design (ACAD) and their students who helped assemble the iconic artwork. The students from the Glass, Visual Communication Design and Print Making Programs collaborated to assemble the commemorative piece.
Art included in planning stage for properties
Since graduating from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 1984 and New York's Hunter College in 1986, Eckart has exhibited worldwide. His art can be found in the Art Institute of Chicago, the Australian National Gallery, New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum. It is also on display at Calgary's Glenbow Museum.
For Turner, the latest art unveiling is the continuation of an important part of development for Oxford, which has assistance in choosing appropriate artworks for various properties.
“We have various art consultants that we use to engage the arts community,” said Turner, whose company recently launched “Oxford ARTablet”, a digital art platform in the commercial tower at 130 Adelaide Street West in downtown Toronto. It is composed of 16, 55-inch LED screens that feature a rotating gallery of artwork from moving image artists.
The inaugural exhibition, Canadian Moving Image Showcase, features the works of Canadian artists David Rokeby and Gordon Douglas Ball along with selected works from the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre and from emerging Canadian artists.
Oxford Properties Group, established in 1960, is the real estate arm of the OMERS pension group. Oxford is a global platform for real estate investment, development and management company with more than 1,400 employees and more than $20 billion of real assets that includes approximately 50 million square feet of office, retail, industrial, multi-family and hotel properties.

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