Community Benefits Initiative Brings Art to Gordie Howe International Bridge Construction Site
Windsor, Ontario – Creating opportunities for local community members is the goal of the Workforce Development and Participation Strategy of the Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Benefits Plan. While most commonly thought of as jobs for construction and skilled trade workers, a special initiative gave local artists from Walpole Island First Nation, Caldwell First Nation and Southwest Detroit the chance to contribute their talents to the Canadian and US construction sites.
The Community Benefits Plan includes a commitment to engage an Indigenous artist in Canada to participate in the development of a project-related art piece. When working to implement this commitment, Bridging North America recognized that the outside panels of the tower crane climbing system provided perfect canvasses for painting murals. With four climbing systems in place – two on each side of the bridge – this initiative was expanded to include a Southwest Detroit artist on the US site.
The artists – Paul White, Teresa Altiman and Daisy White from Walpole Island First Nation, Naomi Peters from Caldwell First Nation, and Roberto Villalobos from Southwest Detroit – were engaged in summer 2020 and began designing their paintings. The art features the international aspect of the project with the Canadian maple leaf and the American stars and stripes. The artists were encouraged to make recommendations to the project team and to take creative liberties in the art to not only share the history of the lands on which the bridge is being constructed, but also to tell a few of the many stories about the culture and diversity of the region.
The tower crane climbing systems on which the murals will be displayed are temporary steel structures used to provide access for workers constructing the two massive bridge towers supporting the bridge. As the tower cranes are extended to their ultimate height of 250 metres/822 feet, so will the artwork, making them visible from land on both sides of the border and from the Detroit River. The panels for the Canadian tower crane were painted at Walpole Island and transported to the bridge construction site in fall 2020. The US panels were painted on site. The murals will remain on the climbing systems for approximately two years before being repurposed once the bridge is complete.
“This innovative opportunity for local artists to participate directly in the project, through a collaborative relationship with the project team and to reflect the character of the region is representative of WDBA’s goals behind the Community Benefits Plan. We celebrate the remarkable craftsmanship and contributions the region has to offer.”
- Bryce Phillips, CEO, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA)
“The tower crane panels are a perfect location for these on-site art pieces. While the construction site remains inaccessible to the public, the murals will be visible from land and water. Our workers will also enjoy this impressive art which will serve as inspiration and a reminder of the unique communities we are a part of."
- Aaron Epstein, CEO, Bridging North America
- There are four art pieces on the US side and six pieces on the Canadian side of varying sizes. The largest art piece measures 15 metres/49 feet by 12 metres/39 feet.
- Once the tower cranes reach their final height, they will more than double the height of Windsor’s tallest building and will be taller than the 73-story GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
- The region’s rich culture and history will be reflected through other initiatives in the Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Benefits Plan including a series of plaques/interpretive signage. WDBA will engage local historians and residents through further consultation starting in 2021.
- Video: Meet the Artists
- Photo Gallery
- Backgrounder: Artists’ Biographies and Additional Quotes
- 9 Things to Know about Construction Site Art
About Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority
Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) is a not-for-profit Canadian Crown corporation created to deliver the Gordie Howe International Bridge project between Windsor, ON and Detroit, MI through a public-private partnership (P3). WDBA is responsible for overseeing and managing the construction and operation of the new crossing. For more information visit www.GordieHoweInternationalBridge.com and follow the project on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GordieHoweBrg.
About Bridging North America
Bridging North America (BNA) became the private-sector partner to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Gordie Howe International Bridge project in September 2018. BNA is comprised of some of the most recognized leaders in the construction and infrastructure industry which includes North American and international companies. BNA partners have significant experience carrying out major infrastructure projects such as the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway in Windsor, Ontario; New Champlain Bridge Corridor in Montreal, Quebec; Autoroute 30 in Montreal, Quebec; Eglinton Crosstown LRT in Toronto, Ontario; Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) in Montreal, Quebec; Automated People Mover at LAX Airport, California; Harbor Bridge, Corpus Christi, Texas; Tappan Zee Bridge in New York and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, California.
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Gordie Howe International Bridge
Media Relations Team