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Lake Light Threshold

Lake Light Threshold

James Carpenter
b.1949

Lake Light Threshold
  • Glass, Aluminum, Steel
  • 2011
  • 41 m x 3 m x 15 cm
  • 97 Front Street West, Union Station, Toronto

About the artwork

This artwork consists of three elements that represent a kinetic volume of light evoking the surface of Lake Ontario in winter. Lake Light Threshold is a powerful urban threshold evoking the phenomenal experience of Toronto’s waterfront and Lake Ontario, speaking to the specific light as it is reflected, refracted, diffused and absorbed by its lakeside geography and climate.

Through the simplest intervention within the limited thickness of the rear opaque north wall, the artist has created a surface which gives extraordinary perception of depth and light. The flow of human activity, as well as both seasonal and diurnal light is expressed along the entire length of the bridge.

About the artist

James Carpenter has worked at the intersection of art, engineering and the built environment for 50 years, advancing a distinctive vision based on the use of natural light and glass as the foundational elements of the built environment. Carpenter founded the cross-disciplinary design firm James Carpenter Design Associates in 1979 to support the application of these aesthetic principles to large-scale building projects. Carpenter has also co-founded Carpenter Norris Consulting, which develops custom daylighting systems for architectural structures that reduce reliance on electrical lighting; and Carpenter/Lowings Architecture and Design, based in the United Kingdom. Carpenter has been recognized with numerous national and international awards, including an Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He holds a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and was a Loeb Fellow of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

Fun facts

  • The designer meant to capture the beauty and feel of Lake Ontario through the glass panels reflecting and mirroring the deepness of the water.
  • While moving around the space, the reflection of the light with the glass creates a unique experience, recollecting the rainbow colours of the Niagara Falls or the scales of the fishes.

Engagement questions

  • How does this work interact with the landscape around it?