Public City’s 3D-Printed Models Illuminate What Drawings Can’t

It’s a very complicated project, but because of the way we’ve been able to explore it and show people exactly what we mean, I think we’ve been able to take the conversation a lot farther a lot more quickly than we would have been able to in traditional drawings.”

 Liz Wreford

Several colorful 3-D models of thunderhead forms that informed the design of an LGBTQ+ memorial in Winnipeg.
Image courtesy Taylor LaRocque, Public City.

The Winnipeg, Canada-based firm Public City has its office’s 3D printers humming for all its projects, says Liz Wreford, the firm’s cofounder and principal landscape architect. For Thunderhead, the winning competition design for the 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument in Ottawa, the concept was rooted in the prairie landscape and the experience of both dread and celebration that a thunderhead brings.

The memorial was the outcome of a settlement from the Canadian government as amends to LGBTQ+ employees who had been harassed, abused, and discriminated against under federal policy for decades. The team included the Two-Spirit advocate Albert McLeod and the performance artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, who collaborated over many iterations to develop a series of thunderhead forms. The 30-foot-high cylinder with disco ball–clad interior space will glitter and fragment the light.

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