Work of Art: Winter Garden Chandeliers by Dale Chihuly

These three chandeliers are part of a public interior garden in Jamieson Place.

Photograph courtesy of Gibbs Gage Architects


Title: Winter Garden Chandeliers, 2009
Artist: Dale Chihuly 
Medium: Glass
Size: Chandelier 1 (north), 94-by-82-by-82 inches; Chandelier 2 (middle), 127-by-80-by-78 inches; Chandelier 3 (south), 84-by-60-by-64 inches. 
Location: Plus-15 level, Jamieson Place, 308 4 Ave. S.W.


Above the reflecting pool on the second floor of Jamieson Place downtown hang three chandeliers by internationally renowned American glass guru Dale Chihuly. 

How did we get these jewels in Calgary? And how did they come to be set so beautifully? 

Talking with Chito Pabustan, at the time the lead architect on the project for Gibbs Gage Architects, reveals the key role that architects can take in the success of an artwork. “Jamieson Place was a delight to work on, definitely seminal in my career as an architect,” says Pabustan. 

In order to increase the square footage allowance for Jamieson Place’s construction, the owner and the architects proposed a public interior garden on the building’s Plus-15 level. 

They solicited interest from the Chihuly studio with a pitch that began: “Calgary is a winter city.”  

The winter garden was designed as a year-round place of repose and an oasis of green and humidity that is especially inviting in the winter. The planting scheme for the 2,000-square-foot living wall, which was the largest living wall in Canada at the time it was created, is based on the visual texture of the prairie and foothills taken from a satellite photo. The layout recalls the open prairie landscape: granite floors with touches of wood. 

The furnishings are low and simple in form. Bamboo grows in sunken containers, a Zen version of homestead windbreaks. Generous sky-lights remind you of the expansive prairie sky above.

Once they settled on the Chihuly chandeliers, Pabustan and his team designed the lighting to best show off the hand-blown glass, which glows within the meditative, minimal landscape of the garden. The exuberant clusters of twisting tendrils and sumptuous orbs catch the light in a range of colours. Amber, green and blue are delicately lined with the canework threads associated with Venetian glass, blending into a colour that is hard to name — perhaps it’s the colour of the prairie sky just before sunrise. 


Photograph courtesy of Gibbs Gage Architects


This article appears in the December 2018 issue of Avenue Calgary. Subscribe here.


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