When the project team gathered for their first meeting, it was unanimously agreed that design should originate from the iconic shape of the Stanley Cup. Instead of reinterpreting the cup’s three-dimensional form, the team absorbed the immediately recognisable silhouette of the cup into a contemporary ‘Arc de Triomphe’ commemorating Lord Stanley’s Gift to the sport, and the heroes who have been awarded the Stanley Cup, hockey’s highest honour.
2017, the scheduled year of completion for this memorial, marks the 125th anniversary of the Lord Stanley’s gift, the 100th season of the National Hockey League, and the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation. This beautiful ‘alignment of the stars’ was the inspiration for the Arch’s function: The Arch of Light acts as both a monumental sculpture and a sun calendar that demarcating key moments in the history of the NHL. Much like ancient stone constructions - carefully crafted to measure time and tangibly display a relationship with the cosmos - the Arch projects the silhouette of Stanley Cup onto the floor of the city using only the unique northern light of Ottawa. As the sun slowly moves through the sky, so too does the shadow of the Cup on the ground. With the passing of the day’s light the shape of the cup grows just like the actual Stanley cup has grown in height over the years.
The design of the monument’s aperture was carefully shaped to focus as much light as possible onto the plinth below. The plinth was also meticulously designed to highlight key positions of the sunlight during the calendar year. While the sun and shadows are always in motion, the one element that remains constant is the light gleaming on the Arc’s inner edge, illuminating the inscribed names of the athletes that have won the Stanley cup over the last 125 years.
The Arch of Light attempts to create a new landmark for the City of Ottawa, a place where each year crowds can gather together to celebrate their heroes, and the national sport. As a sculpture and a clock, the crowd can both enjoy the monument as a work of art, and, when the sun aligns with those key moments of NHL history inscribed on the monument’s base, a celebratory event. The Arch of Light commemorates Lord Stanley’s generous gift and Canada’s love for hockey.
The Arch, the most visible and prominent element of the piece, stands 10m high and 4m wide. It is designed to be fabricated off-site in a controlled factory setting and shipped to site for efficient installation. The piece is comprised of three components; the primary structure; the secondary structural grid; and the cladding. The primary structure consists of stainless steel arched trusses made from 203 mm x 203 mm x 10mm square Hollow Structural Section (HSS) members. These primary elements will distribute the load of the sculpture itself, and additional lateral forces imposed by wind and seismic, onto the foundation. The secondary structure consists of a grid of interlocked and welded CNC cut ribs which form the structure for the steel cladding. The distances between ribs vary depending on the curvature of the cladding; flat areas are spaced at 900mm while the ribs forming silhouette of the cup, the most prominent and geometrically intricate part of the piece, are spaced at 250mm.
A seamless skin, covers the entire piece. Panels are unrolled using CATIA, a sophisticated digital fabrication and modelling program, which creates an optimized series of ¼” Stainless Steel sheets which are cut, bent and welded to form the proposed geometry of each unique piece. Seams between panels are also welded and polished creating a seamless, monolithic object. Beginning 4 metres above the plinth, on the inner surface of the Arch, names of all the teams and athletes who have won the Stanley Cup throughout its history are inscribed, a parallel to the cup itself.
A concrete plinth forms the base of the monument and covers the full extent of the site. In addition to forming a structural foundation, the plinth creates a surface on which shadows cast from the piece fall. Key historical dates are engraved on the surface of three steps that make up the plinth. Each step curves towards the center, forming a relief that outlines the shadow of Stanley Cup as it reaches the position that corresponds with the key historical date. The top surface of the plinth will be ground and hammered to expose coloured aggregates within the concrete and establish a top surface appropriate for walking.
The monument’s interior frame and exterior cladding are both made from stainless steel, chosen for its durability and reflective surface which recalls the glimmer of the Stanley Cup. Using stainless steel eliminates the possibility of rust or corrosion damaging the monument – an issue commonly associated with steel constructions. The cladding has a brushed or “angel-hair” finish which, due to its non-directional pattern of subtle brush marks, reduces the appearance of surface wear. As such, it can be anticipated that the piece will last well into the future without showing age.