Charispiral - CODAworx


Submitted by Charlotte Riggs

Client: Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Location: Charlestown, MA, United States

Completion date: 2013

Project Team


Perkins + Will


Mary Ann Mears

Art Consultant

Charlotte Riggs

Boston Art


Boston Art commissioned sculptor Mary Ann Mears to create an 18’outdoor sculpture which would act as a beacon from afar yet provide a powerful and humanistic experience up-close for patients, visitors and staff at the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. The two-piece painted aluminum sculpture’s warm hue and organic forms offer a counterpoint to the cool grays and rectilinear nature of the building behind it. Thought of as a visual metaphor for the care-giver and the cared-for, this piece speaks to the core of the Hospitals mission, Rebuilding Lives, Renewing Hope.


Charispiral is one of the first things a person sees while approaching the new state-of-the-art Hospital, which was completed in 2013 and is an architectural triumph and beacon of hope and recovery for thousands of patients and families. In planning the sculpture, it was very important that it fit seamlessly into the existing architectural and landscape design and also aligned conceptually with the rehabilitative missions of the Art Program and the Hospital. The scale and placement of the sculpture were critical considerations, as the as site and the building are very large, the expanse of the harbor beyond even larger, yet the terrace where the sculpture rests is more intimate. Because the sculpture is visible from multiple viewpoints and distances, Mears carefully considered the relationship of the two spiral forms in conjunction with their surroundings, creating visual intrigue from all angles. Conceptually, the goal was to convey and celebrate the rehabilitative and restorative mission of the hospital and be accessible to all.


After months of collecting input from the Spaulding team, architects and the Art Focus Group, Boston Art presented a number of sculptors for consideration. Together the design team selected Maryland artist Mary Ann Mears to create this key outdoor sculpture. Mears quickly internalized the Hospital’s mission and commitment to this project and through research, careful listening, team meetings and site-visits came up with a working concept. Boston Art, with guidance from Spaulding, the architects, landscape architects, engineers and Mary Ann, continued to modify and improve upon the selected design until all of our goals were met, and exceeded.

Additional Information

In describing the creative development of Charispiral, Mears says, “Creating sculpture is an intuitive process overlaid on the very practical, physical properties of materials while always trying to reach beyond limitations of space and time. There is resonance with the field of rehabilitative medicine where science is necessary but not sufficient; where cherishing the power of human caring and understanding of the mind is part of the critical work of a highly disciplined institution.”