Oct. 18, 2019

Landscape Architecture Graduate Unveils Heavy Competition Design

On your drive from Calgary into the mountains (maybe this weekend), detour at Harmony to experience a new disruptive, provocative art piece.

It’s designed for contemplation. And will make big creative impact. 

Full of soul and poetry, Gordon Skilling’s winning design for a student competition is bold. His design, titled [Re]newal - Profound Cycles,displays a visual of hands sharing a native prairie flower, the pale blue-eyed grass. The design starts with a triptych (an art form meaning “three-fold” in Greek) combining ideas of time and landscape. The image is pixelated, and using a series of flat rods, each profiled individually, they create a 3D form of the image. Gordon’s design works a little like pin art that takes impressions of objects, but on a larger scale and with more complexity.

The result is a very personal interaction with the idea of connection with others, with time, with landscape.This disruptive, provocative art piece was unveiled at the heart of the new community of Harmony in Rockyview earlier this month. 

When Gordon, aMaster of Landscape Architecture (MLA) student at the time (he's since graduated and working on his Master of Environmental Design) in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape with an undergrad degree in film, submitted his design to Heavy Industries for a public art student competition, he knew he would be competing against students in art and architecture across the city, and was ready for the challenge. 

Hands sharing a native prairie flower, the pale blue-eyed grass

hands sharing a native prairie flower, the pale blue-eyed grass

Gordon Skilling and Heavy Industries

“After concept presentations, they informed me that I was the winner of the competition and that they would be moving forward, with me, to build the feature over the summer, an amazing opportunity to say the least,” Gordon recalls. 

Three other students were shortlisted: a student from the University of Calgary’s architecture program and two students from ACAD. He reflects, “I believe I won the competition because of my training as a student of landscape architecture. It gave me the tools, the skill set and the perspective that students from other programs did not have. And it allowed me to balance design thinking and problem solving with artistic process to articulate a concept that was multifunctional – artistic and didactic.”

This is Gordon’s first built project – a feather-in-cap for someone who just graduated from landscape architecture school. This design is envisioned to become a placemaking landmark in the new community.

The student competition was run by Heavy Industries, a premier design-fabrication company based in Calgary in collaboration that specializes in fabrication, with Qualico Communities and Bordeaux Developments. 

Unveiling of the triptych design

Unveiling of the triptych design

Gordon Skilling and Heavy Industries