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Call for Concept Proposals

Willis Way Tree Grates Submission Requirements

City of Waterloo is inviting artists to respond to a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the development of a new public art work. The total  budget for the final design of this Public Art project is $2,000.

For the purposes of this competition, an artist is a person who is critically recognized as an artist, possesses skill, training and/or experience in their artistic discipline, is active in and committed to their art practice, has the ability to work within a collaborative environment, and has demonstrated experience creating art.  Demonstrated experience creating outdoor public art will be considered an asset.



The City of Waterloo is located in the heart of Canada's Technology Triangle, in the Region of Waterloo.

Within our 64 square kilometres (25 square miles) of land area lives a diverse population of 137,420 (2017 estimate by Statistics Canada) who contribute to our vibrant culture.

We are a dynamic urban municipality in Southwestern Ontario with a strong cultural and economic base. Renowned post-secondary institutions, global think-tanks, and major employers call Waterloo home.

The quality of life in Waterloo is enhanced by the arts, culture, and heritage in our community as well as the recreation opportunities, parks and trails, programs, services, and facilities that are available to citizens. Waterloo is a great place to live, work, learn, and play.


Project Background Information

Willis Way is a multi-use roadway located between King Street and Caroline Street in uptown Waterloo. As a part of planned upgrades to this section of Willis Way, artists are invited to submit a design proposal that will be incorporated into tree grates along the newly revamped streetscape.

The project is in support of recommendations made in the Uptown Public Realm Strategy. This strategy examines and plans for the use of public spaces in uptown as the City continues to grow and develop over the next 20 years. Willis Way is identified as one of the three priority areas in the strategy and this project will aid in building identity, increasing livability, beautification, and character building of the street.

Willis Way is one of the youngest streets in uptown with a green space that is shouldered by Waterloo Public Square and Barrel Warehouse Park. The Uptown Public Realm Strategy identifies this portion of Willis Way as an opportunity to adopt a people-first approach as it has a strong connection to LRT and public parks (see page 105 of the Uptown Public Realm Strategy).

Laurel Creek runs underground adjacent to this portion of Willis Way and re-appears at the end of the street at Regina Street. This rich natural heritage feature is the subject of other Public Art pieces in the City of Waterloo Public Art Collection including Laurel Creek (Natalie McHaffie, 1988) and Fourteen Neighbours (Jason Panda, 2017).

Applicants are encouraged to respond to the call with a concept that explores one of more of the following themes:

  • Natural heritage features of the surrounding area in uptown Waterloo
  • Stories and collective memories of Waterloo’s past, present, or future
  • Movement, connectivity, and pedestrian friendly spaces
  • Public engagement, gathering spaces, and community building

In accordance with the Public Art Policy, the final project will be accepted into the permanent Public Art Collection and become the property of the City of Waterloo. As per the collection mandate, all pieces and projects within the City of Waterloo collection must reflect the story of Waterloo, capture the spirit of its citizens, or bring a unique experience to community members as they enjoy many of the amenities that the City of Waterloo has to offer. 


Scope of Work

Artists are being asked to submit a design concept that will be used to create a series of tree grates that tell a collective story and will be produced by a fabricator.

The submitted proposal is to be treated as a conceptual design. The selected candidate will work with City of Waterloo staff, the stamp manufacturer, and with the design materials specialist to adjust and augment the concept to fit within the parameters and limitations of the design materials and manufacturing guidelines.


Site Considerations

The artist(s) selected for the project will be responsible for developing design that can be fabricated into a tree grate as per the manufacturer’s dimensions (listed below).  The concept will allow water to penetrate the surface, must have the potential to comply with safety standards, and must respond to the previously identified themes.


Material and Design Considerations

The selected design will be manufactured into functional tree grates that will be installed throughout Willis Way (from King St. to Caroline St.). The grates will be fabricated at a size of 1.83m x 1.74m. Artists should allow a radius of 22.6 cm  in the centre of the piece.  The work will be fabricated to be 5.08 cm  thick. The grates will be finished with a matte black powder coating. The tree grates will be fabricated by the manufacturer to fit around a tree in two separate pieces which should be considered within the design.


Proposal Requirements

Artists are invited to submit one proposal. Deadline for submission is February 27, 2020 by 5 p.m. Artists must submit all of the following supporting documentation with their application: 

  1. One copy of the completed application form.
  2. Current Curriculum Vita for each artist or member of a proposal team that includes a brief statement of the artistic activities for the last 24 months (limit 4 pages).
  3. Six (6) images of recent and/or relevant artwork. Please include the following information for each image: name of artist(s), title of work, date, media, and size.
  4. A written expression of interest including:
  • Conceptual design/context outlining project, site context, and artist’s suitability to execute this project.
  • A conceptual image of the proposed artwork/design.
  1. References including names, addresses, phone number, and email addresses for two references who can speak to your artistic practice and/or experience delivering projects.

The submissions will not be returned. The selected artist will be paid in full to complete the design with the support of City of Waterloo staff and the fabricators working to produce the final tree grates. Multiple tree grates will be produced and will showcase the work of the selected concept/design. The selected artist will retain all rights to the final design, but will allow the City of Waterloo to reproduce the final design in future iterations of the project as may be required by the City.


Selection Process

As a piece of Public Art, the design concepts and proposals will be reviewed by the City of Waterloo Public Art Committee and an inter-departmental review team made up of City of Waterloo staff.

Proposals will be scored on the following criteria:

  • Artistic merit
  • Connection to project themes and site restrictions
  • Ability to carry out project
  • Aesthetic considerations


Tentative Project Schedule:

February 27, 2020 by 5 p.m.                          Deadline to submit expression of interest/concept

End of March 2020                                        Selection Committee decision and commission awarded

Summer 2020                                               Final design, fabrication, and installation period

Summer  2020                                              Art work opening


Additional reference materials:

City of Waterloo Public Art Policy

Uptown Public Realm Strategy

City of Waterloo Culture Plan


All artists are encouraged to sign up to find out about more opportunities including other artist calls, workshops and professional development offerings, events, resources, and more by joining the Create Waterloo Artist Roster. To find out more, visit:


Allowed extensions pdf, doc, docx, xls, xlsx, jpg, jpeg, gif, png, tif


Allowed extensions pdf, doc, docx, xls, xlsx, jpg, jpeg, gif, png, tif


Allowed extensions pdf, doc, docx, xls, xlsx, jpg, jpeg, gif, png, tif

To the extent that the foregoing information constitutes personal information as defined in the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, chapter M.56 as amended, the information is subject to provisions of that Act and will be used for the purposes of this Public Art call. Questions about the collection of personal information should be directed to the City Clerk, Waterloo City Centre, 100 Regina Street South, Waterloo, Ontario, N2J 4A8, telephone (519) 886-1550.