Nest - CODAworx


Client: University Health

Location: San Antonio, TX, United States

Completion date: 2023

Project Team


Michael Szivos



George B. Hernandez, Jr.

University Health Salud-Arte; Art of Healing Program


Leni Kirkman

University Health Salud-Arte; Art of Healing Program


Allison Hays Lane,

University Health Salud-Arte; Art of Healing Program

Art Program Assistant

China L. Whitby

University Health Salud-Arte; Art of Healing Program


Marmon Mok




Mark Greenberg


“Nest” is a suspended artwork commissioned as the keystone artwork for University Health’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital. The 8’ x 8’ x 18’ artwork was conceived to strengthen the mission of University Health’s Salud-Arte: Art of Healing program “to inspire healing, hope and trust.” The gravity formed thin shell sculpture is made of linear pieces of laser cut aluminum that are assembled in a woven pattern much like a bird’s nest. Inspired not only by how nests are constructed, but also as a place where birds lay their eggs and nurture their young. Nest was also conceived as an artwork in dialogue with Priscila De Carvalho’s glass based artwork “Mother Birds” to spatially reinforce the hospital’s mission to care for mothers and children. “Nest” hangs in the new 1,100 square foot atrium in the middle of the grand staircase. Its simple elegance and engaging form attracts visitors from many angles, as they enter a space for healing. As visitors ascend the grand stair, “Nest” frames surprising views of the double height space, other people, and exterior activity through the glass façade of the entrance. “Nest” joins over 5,000 art objects integrated throughout University Health’s campuses and clinics and will be the focal point of our new main campus entrance.


Art in a healing setting is an important part of the DNA at University Health. Working in tandem with the architects, Marmon Mok and ZGF, the Curator for University Health began discussions of where a large site-specific hanging or standing sculpture could be placed. The goal was to create an engaging, vibrant and uplifting art integration that would be safe, easy to maintain but would allow children and adults alike, to have a diverse reaction to its undulating curved organic form. Terrazzo flooring and a sculptural gray grand staircase form the site of the artwork, which hangs 18’ from the center of the lobby ceiling. A rounded art glass wall, “Mother Birds,” by Priscila De Carvalho, embraces these important focal points. The horizontal blue and white glass, with a mother and birds is embedded with over 5,000 names of staff, of patients and their families and is a strong juxtaposition to the striking vertical visual pull of “Nest.” Szivos‘s piece was selected after De Carvalho and the design always successfully considered the partnership and dialogue between the stair, glass façade, and De Carvalho’s artwork. The timeless, sleek simplicity of the silver metal and vibrant interior shades of blue in “Nest” strikes the right balance and becomes the centerpiece of our atrium.


University Health’s Salud-Arte process began with discussions between the internal design team, collaborations with local art community centers, museums, and nonprofits to create the art program call. The call resulted in over 1,000 applications form local, state, national and international artists. Michael Szivos was selected in 2021 as one of four semi-finalists. Salud-Arte carefully vetted his work, called his references and had several interviews with him. From the moment Salud-Arte first reviewed his images and application to his selection, we knew we were seeing a very dynamic, unique and cutting edge art practice. His background as an architect and professor also made him very approachable in the collaborative process. He always had a sensitivity to the population he was designing with and for. Szivos worked to integrate the artwork following the building‘s design prompts, which were “Texas Flora and Fauna” and Szivos was able to thread the needle between organic and natural form, allowing the viewer to see many things, a nest, an artery, a woven basket, child’s toy, a spaceship. This ability of an artwork being able to speak to groups of all ages and backgrounds, is a very special skill set that Szivos achieves on all levels in his team’s completion of “Nest.”

Additional Information

While the form of “Nest” is creatively inspired by natural processes and the structure of a bird’s nest, physics simulation software was used to achieve the final form. The thin shell structure is made of aluminum that is less than 2 mm thick, utilizing the overall form to enhance its structural stability. In that sense the strips act like a network distributing the structural forces throughout the artwork. The complex curvature gives it strength so it can be made with 1mm thick aluminum strips. “Nest” is made of over 4000 unique laser cut aluminum strips. Each is cut to a unique length and the inside surface of each strip is a shade of blue that is electrostatically painted. Custom software was used to randomize the placement of the strips while retaining the points of the grid shell that gives the form its structural integrity. This randomization produces a woven-like assembly system that appears idiosyncratic but is actually very precise. Each strip is labeled for placement and a custom three dimensional interface was developed using the computer model. This was used during installation to locate the position of each strip and allowed the SOFTlab team to assemble “Nest” on site in a week.