Corvus Design Blog

January 14, 2011


In 2009, Peter Briggs of our office and a friend of his (Jonny Hayes) participated in a local arts event called FREEZE (click on this link to see the other amazing contributions to this event). They were tasked with creating an opportunity for kids to engage with winter art/sculpture. So… over the span of about a week, Peter and Jonny took a number of 4’x8’x2′ blocks of virgin Fairbanks ice (same ice they use for their ice festival) and turned them into the mounting board for childrens’ art.

We used a poem as our project blurb:

Come dabble in a paddle through the tropical ice!
Dare to enter this chilly crevasse,
with salmon, guppy, eel and bass…
Hop in for a swim in the twisty ice flow,
or at least a peek, or a dip of your toe…
Frolic with fellow new fishy fresh friends,
flippery things frozen from end to end…
Ice is nice in a cold winterscape,
Icequarium, Icequarium … we can’t wait!

The Construction 

Tilting up the blocks after routing the circles
Consulting with the Fairbanks Ice Gurus
Dramatic Chainsaw Use
Chisel Work
‘glazing’ the ice with a torch
Super clear ice!

The Artwork (bring on the kids)

Drawing on vellum

Icing the art into the wall
Some of the chilly creatures that the kids drew.

It’s interesting in there…

Nightime Lightime

 We used an LED light system in the wall to illuminate it at night… it really came alive. (


 Performing with the ice
As part of FREEZE, a performance group went around to the various installations and interacted with them.

 Nightime Video

The Melting

A few days after we finished constructing it, the weather warmed up. It did amazing things to the clarity of the ice, and as it (very slowly) melted, the art wall went through some great transformations.

 A bit about Peter and Jonny (project bios): 

Jonny Hayes

Jonny Hayes, since the age of neon, mohawks and rolled pant legs, has been ambitious to engage in everything winter. The second biggest engagement was the move to Alaska from snowy Buffalo, and since then all things have turned out pretty – cool. An admirer and manipulator of landscapes through the seasons is what Jonny most enjoys, and the challenges of understanding processes and developing useful skills is typically the first step. Participating in FREEZE is a celebration of the things Jonny enjoys most.

Peter Briggs

Peter Briggs, in previous incarnations in warmer climates has offered short courses to people less familiar with the science and application of snow (i.e. Physics of Snow 101 — Trajectory, Snow Chemistry 310 — Moisture and Compaction, and Snow Medicine 421 — Healing Effects of Snow Down the Back). As a northern landscape architect, developing all-season landscapes (including winter!) is key. As a northerner in general, Peter cherishes the opportunity to celebrate winter with humor, chilly fun and a special kind of art … FREEZE!