New Brunswick

Fredericton gets fancy by integrating artwork at Victoria Circle

The City of Fredericton is getting rid of that massive pile of dirt at the Victoria Circle roundabout and replacing it with something a little more pleasing to the eye.

The artwork will be incorporated into the city's downtown core next summer

That pile of dirt at Victoria Circle roundabout is going to turn into a brand new public art display that will be considered the gateway into the city's downtown. (City of Fredericton)

The City of Fredericton is getting rid of that massive pile of dirt at the Victoria Circle roundabout and replacing it with something a little more pleasing to the eye.

Next summer, a public art installation called Blue Circle, will be incorporated into the downtown roundabout. 

"It will make a gateway for the city," said artist Marlene Hilton Moore.

The installation represents the St. John River and features two large semi-circles, which serve as the north and south side of the city.

The artwork also includes a five-metre diameter circle that rises around three metres above the ground supported by a central post. The half-circles, made of aluminum, also feature metallic blue aerospace paint with laser-cut circles illuminated with natural light during the day and LED lights at night.

It doesn't look like much now, but the downtown roundabout will have a brand new look by next year. (Elizabeth Fraser/CBC News)

"It will move with the flow of the traffic and the flow of the traffic will move with it," she said. "It will just be calming."

The city received just over 50 submissions from across Canada to create the downtown design.

"I love the idea of it being a circle ... the geometry of a circle within a circle," she said. 

A celebration of both sides of the river

Hilton Moore found out she won the bid in December.

She lives in Barrie, Ont. but has a deep connection with New Brunswick's capital, where she grew up.

That's why she wanted to get involved in the project.

"It was Fredericton, basically," she said. "That's too exciting for me."

Hilton Moore, who described Fredericton as a "celestial city" wanted to incorporate the St. John River and celebrate both the city's north and south side in her piece.

It will take the Ontario artist about six months to fabricate the piece of artwork and then have it transported to Fredericton.

The total budget for the project is $125,000.

A feel for Fredericton

Last year, the city also offered a tour of the city to the artists who made the short-list for the project.

They toured the circle itself, city hall and Fredericton's downtown core to get a glimpse of its history. 

"All of the information I received solidified more of what Fredericton really was," said Hilton Moore.

"That information was what I went back to when I was imagining what I would create for the work."

She said the design won't be distracting to drivers because it's in the shape of a circle. 

"You flow with it so easily."

And she is using a material that will diffuse the light inside the circle at night. 

'A sense of place'

While some might argue the artwork will be distracting, Angela Watson, cultural development officer for the City of Fredericton, said the piece will suit the space it's in.

"It makes a city and a town unique," she said. "It's a gateway into the downtown."

Roundabout art is common in cities around the world. 

Singapore has the Fountain of Wealth at the centre of its roundabout in Suntec City. In 1998, it was listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest fountain in the world.

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There's also the Victory Monument in Thailand, which was built in 1941 to mark the bravery of military personnel, police and civilians who died during the Franco-Thai War. 

The City of Fredericton doesn't have any concrete plans to implement more of these designs in roundabouts across the city, but it isn't entirely out of the question. 

"It creates a sense of place," she said. 


Elizabeth Fraser


Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip?