A new art program at Children’s Medical Center supports a comprehensive wayfinding system that helps patients and visitors maneuver through the several-million-square-foot campus of five separate buildings. Using visual arts as a component of the wayfinding strategy requires successful integration of commissioned work into the campus-wide system of signs, symbols, and meanings in the built environment. A primary objective is to reduce stress and anxiety for both patients and staff who are navigating the large campus. This form of healing art demonstrates a therapeutic approach to healthcare design.
A significant part of the campus renovation focuses on eight public elevator banks, ranging between five and thirteen stories, which serve a central role in the path of travel for patients, visitors, and staff. Each elevator is identified with a unique icon, including "Butterfly," "Trains," "Planes" and "Flags.” On each floor, an artist is commissioned to execute a series of major works to clearly identify each of the elevator lobbies. Each artist is given a very similar set of requirements, with which to implement their a unique vision, with a style and medium consistent and recognizable from elevator lobby to the next. By unifying the floor and consistently identifying each elevator, visitors can anticipate and discover these highly appealing artworks as they make their way through the campus, encouraging a sense of discovery and engagement.
The artists were guided by the overarching concept of "refined whimsy." Their iconic subjects were selected beforehand to appeal to the curiosity and tastes of the pediatric patient population, but the artists were encouraged to adopt a sophisticated approach, not simplistic or patronizing. Before commissions were approved, the artists participated in conversations with the consultants at Skyline Art Services about these requirements and submitted sketches for approval by the hospital's interior design committee. A consistent approach to this large, multi-phase renovation project allows for an organized approach to commissioning and installing the artwork.
Artist Ron Gordon completed a series of torn magazine paper collages that provide rich and unexpected detail within the artwork. The same can be said of Peter Hite’s postage-stamp collage, utilizing thousands of stamps from around the world to encourage viewers to examine the works closely as well as to consider the work as a whole. Rich textural qualities emerge in Jonathan Brown’s glass mosaics, with their surprising play of colors making a powerful effect. Skyline Art Services’ in-house designers and artists designed illuminated signage as well as a number of works printed on a variety of substrates.
This is an ongoing project, and we look forward to collaborating with more artists on future commissions.
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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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In the process, design professionals promote imagination and creativity, and through their commissions, make original art integral to and accessible in people's lives.
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The architecture of our buildings and the design of our interiors affect our happiness and well-being. Each of us deserves a daily dose of inspiration.