The fourteen new bike stands designed by students at OCAD University probably won’t mark the beginning of the end for the old ring and post bike stands, which have long been a fixture—and a favorite target of bike thieves—on Toronto’s streets. That might be too much to ask at a time when cycling itself has become controversial, and when the incoming administration hardly sees getting around on two wheels as a pet cause. But at the very least, the sculptural stands, unveiled today, are a promising early project for the young Queen Street West BIA, chaired by Marc Glassman of Pages Books.
The project began in 2008, as a privately sponsored contest to design bike stands for a mixed-use development at Queen West and McCaul streets, one that’s still under construction now. Glassman, a juror in the original contest, said that some of the runners-up were so impressive that he wanted to see them incorporated into his neighborhood’s streetscape. The collaboration between OCADU and the Queen Street BIA spun off from that: selected student designers were approached to put their submissions in the original contest up for re-jurying.
Left to right: Michael Pham, OCADU VP of Finance Peter Caldwell, Evi K. Hui, Olivier Mayrand, and BIA Coordinator Laura Schaefer.
The stands themselves are already installed and providing parking for cyclists and serving as conversation pieces for pedestrians on Queen between University and Bathurst. And after being silent for twenty-six years on the question of bike parking, Toronto’s sidewalks have been invited to speak their minds, too. Student designers Evi K. Hui and Olivier Mayrand (below) presented three designs shaped like speech bubbles and thought clouds enclosing floating punctuation marks.
“It was a play on the expressiveness of Queen Street,” explained Hui. “You know, what is Queen Street? How can you design a bicycle stand that expresses that?”
Michael Pham’s design, Halo, is an intricately machined, waist-high beveled ring embedded in the concrete. It looks simple (below, pictured with Pham), but it was the most complicated design to execute.
“There’s a lot of little angles, a lot of twisting,” he explained, discussing how he collaborated with city engineers to revise his design. “There were issues of it…being hazardous because of the sharp angles. We got all that fixed.”
On the subject of getting city approval for the designs and locations, all those present had unanimous praise for councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina).
“Adam Vaughan championed it from the very start,” said Laura Schaefer, Coordinator for the Queen St. West BIA.
In total, it took $48,000 of public and private funding (roughly half of that in privately sponsored awards paid directly to the artists) to bring the fourteen new bike stand installations from concept to reality. Of that amount, the city contributed roughly $12,000, matching funds put forward by the BIA.
Aside from a modest payday, what did the artists get out of the project, which occupied two years of their studies?
“It’s really helpful as students to get our work out there,” Hui chimed in.
“I got experience,” said Pham, whose design faced the hardest approval process. “The thing is, you can’t really rely on the city. If they say they’re going to do something this year…you know it’s not gonna be that year.”
What can we expect from the designers in the future? Pham is hoping to go into urban planning and landscaping for the City. Hui is currently working with OCADU on a campus redesign. As for Mayrand: “I’m working on a company called InteraXon, and they’re doing thought-controlled computing.”
Photos by Lodoe-Laura Haines-Wangda/Torontoist.