A New Public Space Emerges at Front & Yonge with the Unveiling of “Dream Ballet” an Homage to Toronto’s Rich Cultural Heritage by Sculptor Harley Valentine

Designed by landscape architect Claude Cormier as part of the Sony Centre redevelopment, the newly completed public plaza and sculpture will be celebrated on December 8th

TORONTO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The emergence of this public plaza in the heart of downtown Toronto, framed by Peter Dickinson’s architectural jewel the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts and celebrated architect Daniel Libeskind’s L Tower, is now a ‘fait accompli’. Rising artist Harley Valentine will mark the opening of the Claude Cormier designed Plaza by unveiling his permanent three-piece sculpture entitled “Dream Ballet”.

The Sony Centre Plaza negotiates the meeting place of two important buildings within the urban fabric of Toronto’s downtown core. The L Tower, an iconic 57 story condominium tower straddles Dickinson’s Sony Centre, one of Canada’s most important modernist buildings. It’s cantilevered entrance canopy remains the destination where people attend for a ‘big night out’. The Sony Centre continues to host a great tradition of international artists, including Leonard Cohen’s last touring show in Canada.

The Sony Centre possess a majesty (Queen Elizabeth II opened the site in 1959) rooted in its unique combination of downtown convenience, striking architecture and parade of entertainers, and is now bridged by the plaza’s angular checkerboard paving pattern of black and white granite tiles along with Valentine’s large-scale steel sculptures. The angles of the paving pattern will be offset by soft-scaping—depicted as a meadow-like garden along the west and north sides of the plaza. The combination invites pure theatre.

Valentine’s “Dream Ballet”, is an homage to The National Ballet of Canada and contextually recognizes their performance legacy at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. It also signals the location as a meeting place, a crossroads of commercial and social interaction with a rich history that predates the Sony Centre with the former Baltimore and Ohio Rail Station and the Great Lakes Ships ticket office.

“I wanted to create a piece that celebrated the locations rich historical spirit while making it contemporary,” says artist Harley Valentine. “The former O’Keefe Centre was an international hub of dance and theatre that introduced Canada to the world and in turn the world to Canada. “Dream Ballet” is dedicated to the spirit of the past and future of art and culture that continues to carve our city.”

The international public art proposal commissioned by L Tower Developers Castlepoint, Cityzen and Fernbrook was submitted to the City of Toronto in July 2010. After an extensive global search, the competition saw submissions from international artists with significant pedigree. Ultimately, the jury selected a unique existing piece from John McCracken. However, his untimely death thwarted heir efforts and led the expert jury in search of new talent. Valentine, who was at the time researching the historic and architectural legacy of the site, offered to submit a proposal which, as a young local artist was welcomed by the Committee. The more than ephemeral and shimmering proposal and its scale captured everyone’s imagination. Valentine then sought out and put his design in the hands of a local fabricator from Scarborough to bring his vision to life. Valentine envisions the plaza as a place for gatherings and outdoor performance, a place people can openly meet and participate in creative exchange. His triptych, like dancers in performance will envelope both space and spectator.

Not long ago, this space languished below the Yonge Street grade and became over time a make-shift parking lot. The L Tower project provided the opportunity to re-establish the connection between the Sony Centre and Yonge Street. Valentine and Cormier’s re-imagination is now a fully accessible public space at one of the most significant street corners in Canada. Five years of work will come to a close as the monumental triptych will be revealed today.

About Harley Valentine:

Valentine is a contemporary Canadian artist based in Toronto. He is best known for his metal-plate biomorphic sculptures which emerge from the realm of modern technology and build on the formalism of mid-century American sculptors, such as Alexander Calder, and John McCraken. His sculptures have been internationally recognized and commissioned by the federal government of Canada.

About Claude Cormier:

Over the past decade, Claude Cormier Architectes Paysagistes has produced an iconic body of work that has been recognized nationally and internationally. Cormier was selected as an Emerging Voice for North America by the Architectural League of New York, and his firm’s projects have garnered honours from organizations that include the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, the Montreal Institute of Design, Heritage Montreal, and the Quebec Association of Landscape Architects. Cormier has taught at the University of Montreal and has lectured across Canada and the United States.

About Sony Centre West Plaza:

Originally designed by Peter Dickinson and opened in 1960, the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts has been restored as part of the L-Tower development – an iconic 57-story residential tower designed by Daniel Libeskind. The open space between the minimalist stone-clad theatre and the blue-steel of the tower’s shard volumes is the Sony Centre West Plaza.


For Harley Valentine
Deanne Moser, 647-888-9388