CANADIAN NAVY MONUMENT
Finalist, National Design Competition (2009)
Richmond Landing is breathtaking. Its history, context and remarkable topography suggest the possibility of rich, metaphorical imagery. The site “opens” cinematically with an establishing shot of Parliament Hill in the distance framed by sky, trees and river. Surrounded by water on three sides it sits, in plan, like a massive ship, peaceful and forever moored. People will of course come to this memorial wishing to remember battles won and lost and lives spent and lost at sea. And this they will be able to do.
However, we believe the first challenge is to avoid didactic expressions of history and instead seek the many common threads that tie together the lives of all who go and have gone to sea in service of this country. We will propose a work which will facilitate movement and touch as a way of discerning meaning and also, as people traverse the site, the eliding and layering of time and evolving perception; much the way memory does. The goal is to signify, not glorify.
For almost two hundred years Richmond Landing has been a place for the beginnings and endings of journeys. The Navy Centennial Monument should be a place where the stories and journeys of the Canadian Navy continue to cross this landing so that all visitors to the site may find the story they seek. Our work may evoke in some the excitement and expectation that every seaman must surely feel when stepping aboard for the first time and in others the sensations felt below decks through a great steel hull pummeled by mountainous waves. There will be places where, on occasion, many hundreds may stand together and at other times, a person may stand in solitude and remember. Our submission will in its attention to detail and the provision of sacred space acknowledge that inherent in the decision to join the Canadian Navy and be ready to stand together is the knowledge that there will be times when one must be ready also to stand alone.
Gordon Reeve is team leader; a renowned site-sculptor and academic with an extensive portfolio of sensitive and inspiring landscape installations spanning over three decades. Gordon’s sensitive and analytical approach often leads to site inspired installations that immediately feel timeless and at home on their sites. Gordon is working in association with Smith Carter Architects and Engineers Incorporated. Smith Carter is one of Canada’s leading integrated design practices, a 170-person integrated architectural, landscape, engineering and interior design firm with offices in Winnipeg, Ottawa, Calgary and Atlanta. Smith Carter team members include Michael Flynn, Project Architect; Emeka Nnadi, Landscape Architect; and Jennifer Brehm, Landscape Designer. Each member of our widely diverse team brings significant professional experience, accomplishment and focus to this project.
While this team has not collaborated in the past, the partnership between Gordon Reeve and Smith Carter’s landscape architecture studio has materialized quite naturally from a shared belief that successful intervention and place-making can occur in unison with a site’s inherent ecological, aesthetic and cultural value. Both Gordon Reeve and Smith Carter value the collaborative design process, and anticipate an exciting and fruitful partnership based on shared passion, accountability and knowledge. We believe that the combination of Gordon’s creative energy and leadership with Smith Carter’s commitment to design, sustainability and innovation in the delivery of projects for the Department of National Defence is the ideal recipe for creating an exceptional and unique Canadian Navy Centennial Monument.
GORDON M. REEVE