Talus Dome


When it was unveiled in 2011, the Talus Dome immediately drew criticism. Public art is often controversial, but this pile of polished steel balls has been pilloried more than most. Driving past those sometimes-blinding spheres on the high-traffic, high-speed, Whitemud Drive, I can't say I've ever been a fan.

But more recently, I saw the Talus Dome up close and on foot. Those same silver balls actually aren't that bad. In fact, the reflections are pretty interesting – a thousand landscapes mirrored back at you - and always changing.

Planners and urban designers often talk about scale. Designing for pedestrian-scale generally means smaller dimensions and finer details than what we design for when people are speeding by in cars. Think Whyte Avenue versus Gateway Boulevard.

Having seen the Talus Dome close up and far away, I think the real issue is location. Most people see it at the wrong scale, speeding by at 80 km/h. No wonder it draws ire, not interest. No wonder it's seen as frivolous spending, not as an amenity.

The Talus Dome could be perfect in a high-pedestrian area - a Borden Park, or Churchill Square or 124th Street – where it can be viewed up close and in person. You should be able to walk around it slowly, interact with it, and watch the reflections change.