Sculptures by Janet Echelman seen at Richmond Olympic Oval, Richmond, BC, Richmond - Water Sky Garden
Sculptures by Janet Echelman seen at Richmond Olympic Oval, Richmond, BC, Richmond - Water Sky Garden

Water Sky Garden

Water Sky Garden transforms the plaza surrounding the Richmond Olympic Oval, official venue for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games speed-skating events, into a permanent art environment for the community. Echelman’s design engages the space all around the viewer – water, sky, and pedestrian pathways – to create an immersive whole using rock, wood, water, air bubble fountains, steel, netting, and light.

Red-stained cedar boardwalks lead visitors through the artwork. Water purifying aerators draw shapes with bubbles on the surface of a pond that collects runoff water from the Ovals’ 5-acre roof, while suspended net-forms undulate overhead in the wind, becoming sky-lanterns during nighttime illumination.

The red boardwalk and “sky lanterns” are inspired by the city’s cultural communities. Richmond has the largest immigrant population by proportion of any city in Canada with the majority of those immigrants being of Asian descent. The wooden boardwalk follows a curving path similar to the choreography of the Dragon Dance, a performance frequently seen in local Chinese festivals. The Nitobe Japanese garden and the Sun Yat Sen Chinese garden of the Vancouver region are important references, especially their material presence, intersecting paths and reflective ponds, and their framing of views.

Water Sky Garden is a contemplative art environment that encourages participants to linger. The overhead netted forms provide a new visual experience, putting art in the sky; at night they glow like lanterns. Nets have a special relationship with the site, as the native Musqueam Band continue to teach their children to fish using nets at this particular bend in the Fraser River to this day, and this area has a history of the fishing/canning industry which employed many ethnic groups.

This project was achieved through Echelman’s collaboration with a team of international award-winning architects, engineers, lighting and water consultants, landscape architects, and fabricators.

Two netted “sky lanterns” suspended from painted galvanized steel rings from which a TENARA® Architectural fiber net form is hung; bridge made of red painted cedar; aeration system includes ““water drawing”” fountains that create tiny air bubbles; colored lighting

Total Installation Dimensions: Approximately 75,000 sq. ft.
East Net Dimensions: 75 ft. length x 65 ft. width x 25 ft. depth
North Net Dimensions: 52 ft. length x 46 ft. width x 36 ft. depth
Length of Wooden Boardwalk: 300 ft.
Length of two Pedestrian Bridges: 52 ft. each
Total length of pedestrian link from Legacy Plaza (south) to Spirit Square (north): 725 ft.

Meet the Creator

Janet Echelman is an artist who defies categorization. She creates experiential sculpture at the scale of buildings that transform with wind and light. The art shifts from being an object you look at, to a living environment you can get lost in. Using unlikely materials from fishnet to atomized water particles, Echelman combines ancient craft with cutting-edge technology to create artworks that have become focal points for urban life on four continents.

Recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Harvard University Loeb Fellowship, a Fulbright Lectureship, and the Aspen Institute Crown Fellowship, her TED talk “Taking Imagination Seriously” has been translated into 34 languages with more than one million views. Ranked number one on Oprah Magazine’s List of 50 Things that Make You Say Wow!, she was named an Architectural Digest Innovator for “changing the very essence of urban spaces.” She recently received the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in Visual Arts, honoring “the greatest innovators in America today.” “

Available for commission/custom work