Signature Lobby Art, Children’s Hospital of Alabama

Submitted by Guy Kemper

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Client: Children's Hospital of Alabama

Location: Birmingham, AL, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $240,000

Project Team

Architect

HKS

Interior Designer

HKS

Art Consultant

Ruth Mears

Hatcher-Schuster Design Associates

Artist

Guy Kemper

Industry Resource

Derix Glasstudios

Industry Resource

Jered Widmer

The Lighting Practice

Overview

Tango. I was asked to do something that would appeal to both children and their parents, something worthy of the building’s iconic architecture.
The original drawings had fewer glass panels that were also much smaller. The client realized early in the design process that the scale of the project needed to be increased to get the impact they were seeking. Huge cloth banners of different proportions were made and hung from the balcony during construction to find the right scale and integration of the art within the space. After a substantial redesign of the entire lobby wall I began designing.

Goals

I took several elements from the architectural geometries and finishes to inform the glass design. The gentle arcs of the building, the spectacular spiral staircase, the millwork and terrazzo were the building blocks of the composition to which I added elements that responded to the psychology of the building’s users. The result is a design that is life-affirming, elegant and playful. It merges fine art and architectural ornament.

Process

Art glass must have proper lighting to be successful, and this presented a major challenge both technically and artistically. It needed to be lit from behind evenly without shadows, with enough light for the glass to pop against the enormous amount of natural daylight hitting it from the nearby exterior curtain wall. This necessitated designing a 50’ x 20’ lightbox with no shadows and a mullionless “stacked” installation of the art glass panels. It was a clever solution devised by HKS and The Lighting Practice of Philadelphia. It also required carefully coordinating the glass and color selection with the color rendering index and temperature of the lighting being used.
Besides making a stunning work of art, collaborating with a lot of smart, dedicated people who trusted one another was the most satisfying thing about this project. The architects, construction side, and especially Mike Warren, the hospital CEO, all contributed their expertise to the success of the project.

Additional Information

It was Fun. This was a dream project: compelling architecture, enough money, and highly competent people who find the most beautiful solution. How often does that happen?