Forest of Light

Submitted by Courtney Crothers

26+

Client: UT Southwestern Medical Center

Location: Dallas, TX, United States

Completion date: 2019

Project Team

Artist

Frances Bagley

Artist

Tom Orr

Client

Courtney Crothers

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Architect

HDR

Landscape Architect

HDR

Industry Resource

Walter P. Moore Engineering

Industry Resource

Vaughn Construction

Industry Resource

Davis Metals (Fabrication)

Industry Resource

Quality Powder Coating

Industry Resource

Unified Fine Arts (Installation)

Overview

Composed of vertical elements that respond to both natural and artificial light and shadow, Forest of Light provides the opportunity to travel through the environment as one would walk through a grove of trees.
Varying in height and diameter, the vertical elements include 57 powder coated reflective steel poles and 23 LED lighted acrylic tubes, which together allow for a continually changing experience depending on the time of day and atmospheric conditions. The installation spans 1,500 square feet, situated within a 55,000 square foot garden.

Goals

Forest of Light was designed to create a welcoming and engaging aesthetic experience for visitors – including patients and their families, students, and employees – to the rooftop garden at UT Southwestern Medical Center’s newest clinical building. Moreover, the installation is visible from numerous locations on UTSW’s sprawling campus and thus also serves as a wayfinding device for the building.
In order to attract people to the garden, it was completely redesigned to include seating and meandering pathways that lead to Forest of Light, the garden’s central feature. Plantings were selected to frame and soften the transition to the art installation, and garden lighting was modified to avoid conflicting with the piece.
Together, the garden and Forest of Light reflect UTSW’s acknowledgement of and commitment to art and nature as tools that contribute to wellness. And given the flexibility of LED, an additional benefit of the artwork is its open ended function of providing the opportunity for visiting technical artists to develop and display their unique lighting programs in the forest installation.

Process

Forest of Light and its site were developed over a period of 18 months through close collaboration between the artists, the building’s architect, landscape architects, engineers, contractor, art fabricators and installers, and UTSW’s art curator and building project manager. Everyone involved was committed to the project and rallied to overcome all roadblocks to completion. UTSW’s leadership, including the EVP for Business Affairs and the President, were actively involved and supportive as well.
Landscape architects from HDR redesigned the garden to feature the installation and helped provide solutions to the site’s challenges. Engineers from Walter P. Moore who designed the building were contracted by the artists to design the artwork’s foundation and technical details of the poles.
With every detail considered and planned, installation by Unified Fine Arts was seamless and took less than two weeks. The result is an activated space that invites engagement and wonder.