Client: Baystate Health
Location: Springfield, MA, United States
Completion date: 2012
Ron Vestri, AIA, LEED AP
Steffian Bradley Architects
Linda Haggerty, AAHID, LEED AP
Steffian Bradley Architects
Located in western Massachusetts, Baystate Medical Center is the sole academic tertiary/quaternary medical care facility serving southern central New England. The organization is currently midway through implementation of a 15-year master plan that centers the Hospital of the Future, a 641,000-square-foot, three-wing campus expansion project.
Programming for this complex building includes a new integrated, multi-disciplinary Heart and Vascular Center that is topped by an inpatient tower with four floors of beds and an ICU (Phase I). The Center also features a 94-bed Emergency and Level-1 Trauma Center, currently the largest ED facility in New England (Phase II).
The Hospital’s development was led by a set of Guiding Principles derived collaboratively among the client, architects, planners, and engineers, with input from user groups, nurses and physicians, and neighborhood councils. These Principles aimed to optimize clinical models, increase flexibility, support innovation, and enhance patient and worker experiences.
Commissioned artwork supports the calming “rhythm for healing” environment by blending nature with technology and complementing the interior décor with its eco-friendly materials, natural palette of wooden and stone features, and plentiful natural lighting.
Produced through innovative techniques, unique woodland-inspired art glass installations recall New England landscapes with abstract renditions of river rocks, marshes, wildflowers, and trees. Each floor features different colors and motifs that originate in the glass panels, which organizes way-finding throughout the facility.
The themes come together in a five-story atrium lightwell, from which visitors experience each floor’s unique natural motif, from lower floors with river rocks and flower imagery to soaring tree canopies on upper floors. The lightwell connects people and space across and through each floor by filtering light and offering an engaging play of visual transparencies. As the sun moves across the sky, the lighting shifts over the art glass vertically and horizontally, creating dynamic sensations.
The Hospital team selected New England nature photographer Peter Kitchell to provide small-scale images that would be adapted into glass installations. Artist Suzanne Tick interpreted Kithcell’s photography into three unique mediums used throughout the facility: (1) acrylic art panels with printed fabric stretched between textured resin, an abuse-resistant material placed in high-traffic areas; (2) etched glass that expresses each floor’s nature theme throughout back- and front-of-house applications; and (3) back-painted glass, used for expansive collage-style panels in the main “family room” lobby. Tick developed multiple motifs and mediums for each floor, and connected them in a collage that layers the themes together.
Tick manipulated the photography digitally, assigning colors and tones, and Skyline Designs used innovative techniques to etch the artwork into architectural glass. Working with the artists and Skyline, the team used patterned mock-ups on paper at size to determine how large-scale installations would register in the vast atrium. Through collaborative working sessions, the team realized that bottom halves of panels would require denser patterns to accommodate privacy.
Working with physicians and staff, the team derived colors/themes to create intuitive links with each service, such as soothing blue water colors and river rocks for the vascular floor.
Understanding that artwork would be essential to create a healing environment, Baystate committed early to this complex undertaking, requiring intensive collaborations among the designers, photographer, and artists. Instead of framed artwork separate from the architecture, this unique project integrates artwork seamlessly into built spaces, including glass installations as well as an elegant donor wall. There are no overhead signs, as would appear in traditional setttings. Instead, unique nature imagery, artwork, and coloring present a strong articulation of simple, understated way-finding and circulation schemes, allowing for minimal use of intrusive signage. Note: Artwork budget absorbed into construction budget (dollar amount unidentifiable).