Westbank is Canada’s leading luxury residential and mixed-use real estate developer. When it commissions architects to design a building it likes them to also design a grand piano that reflects the ethos of the project. The piano is a statement piece that generally sits in the main lobby. And that piano is invariably a Fazioli grand.
Previous notable examples of pianos commissioned by Westbank include:
- The Floating Fazioli (BIG / Bjarke Ingels, 2020) located at Vancouver House on the Beach District waterfront
- The Origami Piano (MGB / Joseph Wu, 2010/2020) for the Fairmont Hotel, Vancouver
- The Alberni (Kengo Kuma, 2018) designed for the Alberni Street project
- The Butterfly Piano (Bing Thom, 2017) for Vancouver’s downtown Butterfly building
- The Telus Piano (Gregory Henriquez, 2015) for Vancouver’s Telus Garden Development.
Westbank’s latest development is the 24-storey Deloitte Summit building in downtown Vancouver. The Tokyo-based firm OSO was chosen to design the building with principal architects Michael Skypens and Esteban Ochogavia.
The office tower is conceived as a vertical assemblage of glass boxes that radiate outwards to express the pivotal location of the site on the interface of the business and entertainment districts.
Depending on the position from where the building is seen, the reflections and silhouettes of the façade appear different.
The impression of randomness is exaggerated by optical distortions caused by looking up at a vertical structure, which helps to conceal the repetition of the structural and the cladding systemsDeloitte Summit, Vancouver / 2021 / Office / 34,850 sqm (OSO website)
Designing the Cloud Fazioli
The appearance of this Fazioli piano is truly unique.
OSO’s architects have covered the instrument with a staggering 450 100mm x 100mm mirrors, each 1mm thick. These sit on 2.5mm steel rods which vary in length up to 300mm, and point in varying directions. The overall effect is much like that of a cloud.
The mirrors represent the large square panels of the building and, like the tower, the piano’s appearance changes dramatically depending on the angle viewed.
The instrument itself is a Fazioli Model F228 semi-concert grand piano. The Cloud Fazioli was constructed at the company’s Italian factory in Sacile. The mirrors were removed for shipping to Canada, then re-installed on arrival. It took technicians a day and a half just to attach the mirrors.
The piano was unveiled at Westbank’s Shaw Tower offices. Demonstrating the piano at the presentation was Taiwanese-born (now Vancouver resident) singer/songwriter and YouTube celebrity Ariel Tsai. A video featuring the Cloud Fazioli will be released shortly (details will be posted here).
It seems the mirrors give the piano’s sound a greater spatial presence. This is due to the myriad of additional reflections close to the piano. There is only one Cloud Fazioli, so to experience the instrument for yourself, you will need to get down to Vancouver’s Deloitte Summit (410 W Georgia Street).
Thanks must go to Showcase Pianos (Fazioli’s exclusive dealer in British Columbia) for help in the preparation of this article.
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I think both the Deloitte Summit building in Vancouver, Canada and the Cloud Fazioli are perfect examples of ART trying too hard to be different for difference’ sake. When a historically iconic object such as a grand piano becomes distorted into some other form that violates established cultural taste it may indeed be considered avant-garde art for whatever reason but at the expense of genuine beauty. I think it is a very ugly piano and I doubt that was the goal of the designers.