First of 3 'drinking birds' installed outside new Calgary Central Library

First 'drinking bird' sculpture installed outside the new Calgary Central Library, ahead of Nov. 1 opening night.

'They really created this delightful sense of arrival'

The first part of TRIO, a three piece installation created by Christian Moeller, was installed Friday at the new central library in downtown Calgary. Moeller's work was chosen from 239 submissions from around the world that submitted proposals to create public art for the new library. (Monty Kruger, CBC News)

The first part of city's latest — and one of its highest-profile — public art projects was installed Friday, outside the nearly-completed new $245-million Calgary Central Library.

It was the first day of a multi-day installation of TRIO — three 'drinking birds' created by Los Angeles-based artist and teacher Christian Moeller.

"The three pieces — one on the east side of the building and two on the west side — have this really gentle movement that they have a visual choreography that they speak to each other across the archway of the building,"  said Clare LePan, director of marketing and communication for the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.

The slender, playful nine-metre tall installation was chosen from 239 submissions, in a process that was launched in 2014.

In addition to TRIO being installed outside the library, Moeller is creating one inside: FISH, a portrait of a goldfish using the coloured spines of  around 11,000 books.

Great connection to visitors

The total cost of the project, including fees, material, fabrication costs, delivery and installation is $2 million — or just under one per cent of the building's budget, as per the guidelines of the City of Calgary's Public Art Policy, which includes a "percent for public art" strategy for funding the acquisition, administration and management of public art in Calgary."

"Christian's pieces were selected most notably because of their playfulness and they really created this delightful sense of arrival," LePan said.

"We felt it was  a really great connection to the variety of visitors, particularly children, who use the library. His work just really aligned with the the values we were looking to bring into the public art program for the new central library."

Those initial 239 proposals were reviewed by a volunteer committee consisting of a community member, an artist and representative from Alberta College of Art and Design, a curator from the Glenbow Museum, someone from the Calgary Public Library and a representative from Calgary Arts Development.

The new Calgary Central Library is set to open in November 2018. (CBC)

The committee whittled the original 239 submissions down to 35, then to a shortlist of five before selecting Moeller, who is a professor in design media arts at UCLA. Moeller studied art and architecture in Frankfurt, Germany and Vienna, Austria.

The library is scheduled to open in November.

With files from Monty Kruger and CBC News


Stephen Hunt

Digital Writer

Stephen Hunt is a digital writer at the CBC in Calgary. Email: