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cityscape

Bird’s the Word

A temporary installation brings faux feathered friends to corporate tower lobbies, and it's not even a little Hitchcockian.

Photo courtesy of Environics Communications

It’s an unusual sight: flocks of chubby blue bird sculptures suspended in flight throughout the lobbies of 13 downtown office towers. The installations, collectively called Air Pressure, were developed in honour of Earth Week; they’ll remain in place until this Friday. Designed and installed by Studio F Minus and commissioned by Oxford Properties (whose buildings are hosting the project), the spectacle aims to address the importance of clean air while also acknowledging the issue of bird deaths that result from collisions with windows on buildings.

“We wanted to link it back to our corporate greenhouse gas reduction program,” says Oxford Director of Sustainability Darryl Neate of the impetus behind the commission. “[The birds are] produced, of course, with environmentally responsible materials and energy efficient technology.”

Each of the structures consists of reusable materials that will, ideally, be put to new use after the installation is dissembled. The low-power LED lights that illuminate the sculptures, collectively, consume less energy than an incandescent desk lamp.

Neate explains that the over 200 inflatable bird sculptures were built to inflate and deflate to mimic flight and breathing.

“It’s the pressure of air going into the bird which lifts the wings, and as the bird breathes and lets the air out, the wings drop,” explains Brad Hindson—who, along with Mitchell F. Chan, is the brains behind Studio F Minus—in an Oxford Properties–produced video promoting the project. The effect is a flock of birds all working together.”

Whether or not they accomplish that effect is a different story. In person, it’s not immediately clear what the puffy cerulean sculptures are supposed to be. (From certain angles, they bear a more than passing resemblance to some kind of aquatic lifeform.) But, amidst the predictable corporate interiors of the office lobbies where they’re situated, the birds are certainly eye-catching. And they’re accompanied by explanatory literature that lays out the causes they’re meant to draw attention to.

Until they fly the proverbial coop on Friday, Studio F Minus’ flying blue birds can be found in the lobbies of the following buildings:

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