new and improved
Pink Balls, designed by landscape architect Claude Cormier, is an installation made up of 170 000 pink balls suspended over 1 km of St. Catherine St. E in the Montreal Gay Village during the summer season when this stretch of St. Catherine is yielded into a pedestrian mall. Fastened to wires that are strung out through the trees at different hight, Pink Balls is composed of three different size pink resin balls producing a five-tone hue. Pink Balls can be seen from crossroads as well as from the Jacques Cartier Bridge, an important gateway to the city. In addition to experiencing an unusual and upbeat visual impression that is created night and day, one relishes in a light modulated by artificial foliage.
By including the community into the project since its first edition in 2011, Pink Balls has been a driving force for the development of this neighbourhood struggling with significant social and economic challenges. Year after year, this has evolved into concrete actions that have improved the neighbourhood’s quality of life physically and socially, increasing, among other things, its attractiveness among locals and tourists.
Since its inception, the project has yielded many economic benefits. We have seen, among other things, an increase in business activity expanding commercial services and customer base. By physically defining the limits of the Village, Pink Balls has created a strong brand image attracting international media attention boosting tourism and its reputation. Pink Balls is now one of the many sites visited by the Tour de ville double-decker bus tour.
Pink Balls is also a driver for many art and design events. Every summer, the work of the landscape architect inspires new actions propelling the project into new directions and new forms creating an equally structuring impact. Pink Balls offers a flat out colourful adventure in the heart of the Village. Under a very tight 7-day deadline at the beginning of summer, Pink Balls was assembled just in time for the first strollers.
The installation shows how the persuasive landscape architect with an innovative concept that meets, in a creative way, the standards governing public domain (security, firefighters, function, etc.) can revive the prospect of urban communities by giving them, among other things, control over the outcome of their development.
Claude Cormier holds a degree in Agronomy from the University of Guelph (1982), a degree in Landscape Architecture (1996) from the University of Toronto and a Master’s in History and Theory of Design from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (1994). In 1995, he founded the Claude Cormier Architectes Paysagistes firm which has now grown into a team of six members. The offices are in an cubic industrial building located on a road built at the end of the 19th Century and nestled in the shadow of the Des Carrières Incinerator.
Through urban planning contracts and the design of installations for contemporary garden festivals, the firm specializes in the development of public and institutional spaces in urban settings. Claude Cormier’s international reputation has been the focus of dozens of published articles and he is a regular speaker on the North-American conference circuit. Over the years, the firm has received over 30 awards and acclamations including the National Merit Award, five times (1999-2005), by the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (AAPC), the 2005 Certificat de reconnaissance by the Fédération interdisciplinary de l’horticulture ornamentale du Québec (FIHOQ), the Emerging voice for North America Award by the Architectural League of New York and the AAPC Frederick Todd Award. The two latter awards were honoured in recognition for the body of his works.