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Digital Art Canvas Featuring Planar LED Video Walls Transforms Lobby Environment of Toronto’s Globe and Mail Centre

The Globe and Mail Centre is a 17-story, mixed-use office building that opened in 2016 in Toronto’s King East Design District and houses Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper in addition to other tenants. Built and owned by commercial developer First Gulf, the LEED Gold certified building includes Class A office space, a four-story podium, multiple ground floor retail shops and a green roof.

In 2019, First Gulf engaged multidisciplinary design firm Forge Media + Design to create a digital art installation that would enliven the building lobby and enhance the tenant and visitor experience. First Gulf desired an installation that would reflect the commercial developer’s core principles in building sustainable, tenant-friendly projects that offer healthy work environments. One of the characteristics of First Gulf’s buildings is a substantial amount of space dedicated to outdoor areas and terraces.

Forge Media + Design, specializing in custom-built digital experiences, set out to create an artistic representation that would fulfil this vision. “First Gulf wanted to create an entry experience that is timeless and would capture their brand in an artful way,” said Laurence Roberts, Forge Media + Design founding principal and creative director. “The lobby architecture, while pristine and beautiful, is also monochromatic and very stark, so it was important to also infuse color and a vibrant sense of life into the space.”

Expressing the concept of growth through digital art

First Gulf’s project vision inspired a unique display canvas centered on the theme of growth. “As a commercial developer, First Gulf is focused on urban growth, but they are also committed to ensuring that it is done responsibly and sustainably,” Roberts said. “That inspired us to create a piece that would show two different sides to what growth can mean.”

As a medium for this artistic expression, Forge Media + Design created an array of 12 LED columns that extend 70 linear feet across the lobby wall. The LED columns consist of 11 Planar® TVF Series LED video walls—each 2-feet-long and 7-feet- high—in 1x6 configurations with a 2.5mm pixel pitch (TVF2.5) and one 8-foot-long, 7-foot-high Planar TVF Series LED video wall in a 4x6 configuration also with a 2.5mm pixel pitch.

The LED canvas is used to display two distinct artworks designed by Roberts and his team, one exploring urban growth and the other the growth of nature. Built in the video game program Unity 3D, the pieces are fully generative and set within a three-dimensional world that is run directly through the gaming engine, the scenes rendering in real-time. External sensor data is fed into the program to help drive how the pieces change and transform—making the artwork come alive. “Whenever you go by it, the scenery will be slightly different, and you’ll never see it the same way twice,” Roberts said.

Much of the content in the pieces are hand-drawn to appear intentionally like 2D artwork. “That gives it a more illustrative texture and handcrafted feel in addition to lessening itstie to the digital realm,” Roberts explained. “From the beginning, our goal was to create art rather than just media content.”

‘Interstitial Space’ explores urban growth and the symbiotic relationship between humans and buildings. The piece actively translates the momentum of the lobby’s pedestrians, adding colorful lines that weave throughout the illustrated cityscape, revealing depth and imbuing energy into the art. Over the course of the day, eight distinct eras celebrate the history of Toronto, from its humble beginnings in 1793 to its current vibrant state today.

‘Bloom’ presents an idyllic, hand-illustrated forest-scape that emphasizes the impact that nature has on humanity and the reverence that we should hold for maintaining a balance between nature and urban sprawl. The art piece features 72 different scenes set in three different biomes and includes seasonal changes, varying flora, floating lanterns, spirit animals and shifting light that emulates the time of day.

The concept of growth is also suggested in the actual physical arrangement of the installation. Closer to the center of the lobby, one end of the installation is marked by the larger Planar TVF Series LED video wall in a 4x6 configuration. Moving from that LED column to the other end of the overall display, the spacing between LED video walls becomes larger and larger—growing outward.

Roman Brailovski, First Gulf vice president of property management and operations, said the artwork captures the history of the site, the uniqueness of the architecture and the core character of his company. “Forge animated the entire wall and created a remarkable product,” he said. “There is a sense of eternal continuity within this piece of art.”

The sheer scale and nature of the array of columns suited the use of LEDs, according to Roberts. “LED was the clear choice—bezels would have interrupted the powerful imagery that we worked so hard to develop,” he said. “The Planar TVF Series LED displays were easy to install and the fact that the system is modular and the cabinets are stackable, without the need for extra cabling, is a great advantage—saving time and resources during the installation.”
The price point of the Planar TVF Series allowed Forge Media + Design to provide the client with the impressive scale of LED technology, Roberts added. “We were able to cover the majority of the 70 linear foot area designated for this inspiring interactive digital experience,” he said.

About the TVF Series

The Planar TVF Series is a family of fine pitch LED video wall displays with a 16:9 aspect ratio that allows every pixel pitch to exactly achieve popular resolutions including Full HD and 4K. With a profile of less than three inches, the Planar TVF Series reduces the overall video wall footprint and is easier to integrate in more spaces compared to other LED video wall solutions.