'Whimsical' sculpture at Story Arts Centre's heart restored
One of Centennial College’s treasures is its Story Arts Centre.
A modernist gem, the building was designed by architect Peter Dickinson as the Toronto Teachers College and was completed in 1954.
After Centennial acquired it, the building took on the appearance it has today owing to renovations in the '90s.
Just as in the past, a whimsical sculpture sits in the courtyard. Resembling an atomic structure, it is also a play of hoops — both colourful and light — with tiny gravitating balls.
It is a fun-yet-deliberate contrast to the building's rectangular forms. The sculpture reveals Dickinson's sensitivity toward even the minor details of his projects.
On my first visit I was enchanted with the building. My impression was that it was special.
So in fall of 2017 I began to worry about the sculpture's dilapidated state. It had seen better days: the decay was glaringly obvious.
I sent an appeal to Dean Nate Horowitz to make my concern known. Interestingly, I was informed that the sculpture was, as it turned out, a replica. The original had suffered from neglect and rusted out entirely.
I was surprised to learn this but also inspired with the idea of preservation, rather then let history repeat itself.
In May of 2018 the restoration initiative began. It started with some decision-making. A small team was hand-picked and a new colour scheme was decided upon.
Myself and two classmates — Julian Lynn and Matthew Oakes — took on the project. Spanning three days, the work started with removing and minimizing the decay. The second phase was straightforward: repaint the surface of the sculpture.
The work was physical, demanding and tough.
But at no moment did the labour feel inconsequential and the result was significant.
Dickinson's sculpture now has a future at the heart of Centennial College's Story Arts Centre campus for many years to come.
By Rennie Taylor, Fine Arts Studio graduate