What do you do when the community complains that one of their buildings is an eyesore and brings down the neighbourhood? You can’t just tear it down because it’s an important part of the City of Calgary’s past, so it gets heritage status, and before you can assign it a new use, you need to do a feasibility study.
You call Union Illustration Co. because the right illustration in a public place like this can make your life much easier. This project had four important goals. Attract positive attention to the building site, so community members take part in the feasibility study, make the street feel safe for passersby, create art that the community could be proud of until the city could make critical decisions, and advertise the possibilities of the site.
We used art to highlight the unique history of the building and the neighbourhood. It sits near new development that includes living and retail spaces. Coffee shops, clothing, and speciality shops are all nearby and have made their homes in other heritage sites and new buildings as well.
For this project, we also did something completely unexpected. Since the lower shops were undeveloped and there are no current tenents we were able to light the back of each illustration with high powered LEDs. The Led’s made the art visible at night. We designed lights to highlight different areas and become a part of each illustration. There are Christmas lights in the florist shop, and the bar looks like it has old lightbulbs from the days of prohibition.
Prohibition was a part of the Armour blocks history, and the old stage is still in the basement.
The art goes from the past and shows a 1930s speakeasy with music and moves forward to the current possibilities of coffee shops, clothing, and maybe a florist.
It’s always great when an illustration is the absolute best solution and for us at Union Illustration Co. – we were proud to have been a part of it.