UPPER FORT GARRY
Heritage Video Wall
Heritage Video Wall
There’s an area in central Canada where two great rivers meet, the Red River and the Assiniboine River. For centuries, this location was a place of meeting and exchange among First Nations. In 1835 the Hudon’s Bay Company, which had a veritable monopoly over the fur trade and served as the de facto government in parts of North America, erected a fort at this location called Upper Fort Garry. This fort was meant to demonstrate the Company’s dominance in the area. The fort was surrounded by four large bastions and fifteen-foot-high stone walls. Inside were storehouses, a well house, gardens, a general depot and more.
In 1869, the Hudson’s Bay Company transferred the large region it controlled, known as Rupert’s Land, to Canadian control. Shortly after, in a vacuum of civil government, a metis leader named Louis Riel seized Upper Fort Garry and declared a provincial government. There were turbulent times from 1869-1870 and it was the fort that gave Riel power and legitimacy both within the settlement and with Ottawa. Louis Riel and representatives of the Red River parishes, from this fort, ensured that a transcontinental nation would be created in northern North America. In 1873, the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada was incorporated with the Upper Fort Garry at its nucleus.
When the fort was no longer of economic or military use it was gradually demolished. This occured between 1881 and 1888, but in 1890 the Hudson’s Bay Company agreed to give the only remaining piece of the fort, the North Gate, and the small parcel of land surrounding it to the city. It was to become a public park forever.
For almost a century this park was overshadowed by the developing city of Winnipeg around it. It was nearly forgotten until 2004, when the City of Winnipeg expressed interest in developing the “surplus property”. The city sent out an Expression of Interest for potential uses of the site. The Friends of Upper Fort Garry was formed and submitted a proposal to develop the site as a historic park. The group raised $10 million to save the entire site. In 2009 the city transferred the title of the site over to the Friends of Upper Fort Garry. For years the park was under construction. Three buildings had to be demolished and underground services had to be installed.
In 2010, the Manitoba Legislature turned the Upper Fort Garry park into a provincial park right in the heart of Winnipeg. The vision was to create, not a recreation of the fort, but a symbolic representation of the fort and the buildings once enclosed within its walls. The locations of the historical buildings will be determined and, rather than rebuilding the old structures, appropriate sculptures and art will be erected in place of the old buildings. It will essentially be a History Sculpture Park.
This park was to have a technological aspect to it as well. There was to be a live stage with a full sound system as well as three unique audio zones in the park each programmed with a unique soundscape. The whole park was also to have wireless internet access through a captive portal. Perhaps the most technically challenging aspect of the proposed park, however, was the Heritage Video Wall. The entire western wall was to be a low resolution, 125mm pixel pitch, video display. Separated by a Bastion, there were two sections. The video area of the north wall was approximately 8′ high x 262′ long at its largest and the south wall was approximately 9′ high x 106′ long at its largest. This video wall was to be a living, breathing piece of art. They planned to display slow, atmospheric video.
The Friends of Upper Fort Garry also planned an interactive componant to this wall. Passersby would trigger motion sensors prompting certain historical content that would layer overtop of the other content being displayed. They also planned to have a digital guest book on the wall as well as other apps to be developed. Signex, as a part of a large consortium, was commisioned to make this video wall a reality.
We started searching for an appropriate LED solution. We went to Daktronics, a trusted leader in LED technology, and decided to use their ProPixel light sticks (PSX-5502-125MN-3). These sticks come in different lengths from 500-2000mm and use through-hole LED technology. The sticks have between 4 and 16 RGB LED clusters, depending on the stick length. These clusters that include a red LED, a blue LED and a green LED make up one “pixel”.
Starting at the North side and working their way South, our installers welded studs to the back of the video wall and mounted over 3500 light sticks. In this case, we needed two light sticks mounted side-by-side to fill each hole in the video wall. Next, we installed the cable management system and connected the light sticks to eachother. We installed 20 powersupplies.