Situated in the heart of downtown Chicago, the Crown Sky Garden is a sanctuary for patients, families, doctors and administrators within this twenty-three story pediatric hospital. The commitment to this sky garden was built upon a growing body of scientific research which links access to contemplative spaces to reduced patient recovery time. This regenerative project offers a new paradigm for healthcare design that integrates healing gardens as part of the health care regiment. The Sky Garden is a rich experience of reclaimed wood from Chicago, groves of bamboo and colorful luminous resin walls.
The comprehensive plan of this healing space was designed to meet several programmatic goals. The need to give inpatient children an opportunity to engage a vibrant play and contemplative environment was balanced with the stringent requirements of the Infectious Disease Control Board, to insure a safe environment for children with immune deficiencies. The space also strives to create a range of activities that mitigate stress, including access to light and natural materials.
This sculpture garden is made up of a series of sinuous custom cast resin panels that offer a chromatic range of colors as one moves through the garden. This whimsical space utilizes interactive sensors that trigger sounds to be emitted from locally reclaimed wood, some of which was planted during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair by Frederick Law Olmsted. An interactive camera tracks the speed of activity, which then transforms the LED gravity wall from a flowing calm linear pattern to an active colorful image of bubbles floating across the surface. The commitment for the Crown Sky Garden was based on psychological and physiological research which found significant restorative properties from nature and contemplative gardens.
Mikyoung Kim Design worked closely with the many participants in the design process, including the Crown family, Chicago civic leaders, the hospital’s patient care leadership, and project leaders. Important collaborators include local craftsman, Mike Jarvi from the Crabtree Farm who crafted all of the wood sculptures. Marshall Svendsen, who worked with us to cast patients’ hands, which ultimately became the sensor locations in the wood sculptures. All of the sculptures were reclaimed with Bruce Horigan, who is a local urban forester in Chicago. Bruce Komiske, Chief of New Hospital Design and Construction, was instrumental to the realization of the space. However, the most important input came from the Kids' Advisory Board and the Family Advisory Board. The Kids’ and Family Advisory Boards are comprised of Chicago Children’s patients and their parents who have had an extensive history of hospital stays. Their input provided insight into the experience of the hospital and the importance of this space as part of the healing process.
The concept of healing defines this space. Reclaimed wood sculptures are located in the garden rooms and act as play opportunities. The local material, repurposed from salvaged wood from Chicago’s storied history, includes wood planted by Frederick Law Olmsted for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the Chicago Children’s Zoo. Bronze hands were cast from pediatric patients in the Children’s Hospital and are the sensors that activate the sounds of water that emanate from the reclaimed logs. The flaws in the wood were cast in resin and illuminated to become an important symbol of the healing process.
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CODA: Collaboration of Design + Art
The global online community that celebrates design projects featuring commissioned artworks.
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Art matters. Attention to the details of our environment leads to love of place, which brings us to take responsibility for the spaces where we live and work. And by extension, the people with whom we live and work. And by extension, to our local communities, our cities, our nations, and our world.
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