Well, that took a bit of nerve.
Most creative people do their work behind closed doors and are able to rehearse and refine before putting it out there for people to react.
For the team behind The People’s Tower: Dundee’s Royal Arch there was no such luxury. Yes, countless hours of planning will have gone into Saturday’s event – but when it came down to it, they had one chance to get the real thing right in front of thousands of eye-witnesses.
Just as well, then, that they absolutely smashed it.
When The Courier first arrived at Slessor Gardens early on Saturday morning it was cold, a bit damp and there were not a lot of people about.
Project producer Claire Dow was buzzing, but I’m sure I sensed a wee bit of nervousness as she scanned the sky and hoped the rain would stay away.
This project absolutely needed the public’s involvement to get it built. But would they come?
The answer, thankfully, was a resounding yes. As the day progressed – and as the scheduled build time went right out the window – word spread and the weather kept getting better.
By mid-afternoon Slessor Gardens was filling up with people; some actively involved in building the arch, others watching and taking photos, while more still were just taking advantage of finally having access to this wide open green space.
It was wonderful to see families enjoying the sun and relaxing in the heart of the city. Suddenly, those waterfront concept videos we’ve all seen started to feel real.
Unfortunately, it also seemed to confirm a concern many have expressed – that of having to cross a three-lane road at Shore Terrace to get to the gardens.
Road tunnels, as some have suggested, were no doubt always out of scope but it seems a shame there wasn’t room in the overall budget for some form of pedestrian overpass, perhaps similar to the one over the railway at Seabraes.
But that’s a debate for another day. Right now, we still have a few hours to enjoy the spectacular sight of the Royal Arch’s return before it is once again brought down and destroyed.
Unless, of course, we decide to forget about pedestrian crossings and tunnels and instead find the money to build a REAL Royal Arch. This weekend suggests the people of Dundee would quite like that.