The “Luminous Veil,” as the anti-suicide barrier on the Prince Edward Viaduct is known, has never been as shimmery as its name implies. Dereck Revington, the artist who came up with the idea for the delicate assembly of steel rods in 1998, originally envisioned the entire thing being lit up at night. When the Veil was finally built in 2003, though, there was only enough money for the basic structure, no lights included. It wasn’t until ten years later that city council, looking for ways to spruce up the city ahead of this summer’s Pan Am Games, finally decided to allocate another $2.8 million to Bloor Street’s famous bridge.
In February, workers from Mulvey and Banani and Guild Electric began the long-deferred task of executing Revington’s vision: a 450-metre-long, LED-based lighting system that reacts to changes in wind speed and shifts colours according to the season. (Revington isn’t completely satisfied, though: in addition to the Veil, he originally hoped to light the underside of the bridge, but those plans were put aside to save money and time.) By Toronto standards, the work would need to proceed almost impossibly quickly, because the lights would need to feature in a pre-Pan Am celebration on July 4th, complete with a torch relay and live entertainment. Here’s how the whole project came together, on deadline.