Lighting for the promenade along University Avenue’s “hospital row” animates an engaging sculptural installation.

University Avenue has gained a dynamic new centrepiece designed to enliven the city’s hospital district. “Lightwave,” a sinuous composition of glowing aluminum “reeds”, now anchors the four medians that run between Elm Street and Queen’s Park Circle. In another welcome improvement to the area’s ambiance, the tubular lights also coordinate with fresh landscaping and site lighting as part of a larger installation dubbed “Radiant Journey.”

The transformation of University Avenue knit together patches of public green space that were previously disconnected and inaccessible, creating a signature destination in the centre of Toronto.

Minor adjustments to the existing roadway on University Avenue and the conversion of only 9.5 acres of asphalt into native landscape, pedestrian walkways, bike paths, and cultural installations, resulted in a 90-acre park that spans from Queen’s Park all the way to the waterfront.

By day, the installation’s sculptural forms have an intriguing organic presence that reaches everyone from drivers to pedestrians to hospital patients looking out their window. But it’s by night that “Lightwave” springs into action, playing animated lighting sequences on the reeds and trees that are programmed to respond to either an audio feed or to ambient sound detected from the surrounding environment. In total, the 380 metre-long stretch comprises 20,000 individual points of light.

The entire project team zeroed in on the opportunity to re-imagine static street medians into a whimsical, dynamic and playful sculptural installation, yet still accountable to a broad range of design criteria to ensure a safe and welcoming experience for visitors. By day, the rhythmic placement of vertical reed-like posts generates a Moire effect in the eye of the observer in motion: at night, the reeds come alive through a stunning light display that also integrates music (via a smart phone link), as well as the adjacent trees and planting. A truly “radiant journey”, complete with thematic and synchronized content.

The University Avenue Reimagining is an ambitious city-building initiative led by one individual who spearheaded a non-profit organization with a strong vision to transform University Avenue out of darkness into light, a symbol of hope for patients, families, doctors and health care professionals, and all users of University Avenue.


Additional Design


Christine Ralphs – Founder Friends of University
Brad Hindson, Studio F Minus
Justin Young, Idea Workshop
Marsha Rovan
Electrical contractor: FitzPatrick
General contractor: Sommerville
Custom Programming: Limbic Media

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