Neuroscience Center - CODAworx

Neuroscience Center

Submitted by Dorsey Hovde Art Design

Client: HealthPartners Neuroscience Center

Location: St. Paul, MN, United States

Completion date: 2017

Project Team

Art Consultant

Victoria Dorsey Hovde

Dorsey Hovde Art Design


BWBR Architects


Daniel Goldstein


This world-class Neuroscience Center bought together Patient Care, Rehabilitation and Research under one roof to support patients and families who live with and are in recovery from traumatic brain injury, strokes, Alzheimer's, dementia, MS and other neurological diseases and conditions. For a healing environment, the art selection was guided not only by the client's mission of compassion, excellence, trust and innovation, but by research in evidence-based and patient-experience design, MindBody medicine, and findings from psychological and brain sciences that help us understand aesthetic responses to art. Artwork that reflects the intersection of science and art was highlighted throughout the facility.


The unique needs of patients and families were the first priority when art commissions were planned. Work was created to communicate hope and healing with the primary goals to provide nurturing, therapeutic and engaging environments. For example: in brain injury patient care, artwork offers sensory-rich and restorative natural elements for cognitive and tactile engagement. In memory care, artwork was created to spark memories and placed to help patients remember a location and assist with wayfinding. Other works include paintings and photography with intergenerational imagery, familiar landmarks, calming nature, and references to music. For rehabilitation, imagery communicates perseverance, strength and balance, e.g., a striking Native American painted horse leads patients towards the gym evoking dignity and strength. Other art encourages movement, represents physical endurance, and provides life-affirming messages in the form of storytelling. For the research floor, artist-scientists created artwork inspired by biology and neuroscience, energizing staff and promoting creativity. Architectually, the art complements and integrates within the architectural features, emphasizing its natural textures, echoing the building's curvilinear lines, and creating spaces where luminous art plays off the changing light throughout the day. A wide variety of media offers a tactile experience using glass, metal, wood, ceramics and textiles.


As healing art consultants, our first step was to clarify the multiple clinic's missions and expectations. We organized interviews, patient focus groups, and staff surveys to help us better understand the unique needs of various patients and family demographics. The art responds to and supports "whole" patient care and healing, and resilience of the facility's staff. With this feedback, our team developed an Art Vision for art selection guidelines, and a multi-media presentation for the Foundation's use in their fundraising efforts. This presentation resulted in additional funding for a 3-story architectural work of art to visually connect the floors and an 18' artist-designed Donor Recognition Wall. Critical to the project's success was to understand the architect's vision for the building and interior design finishes so the artwork could appropriately integrate using harmony, balance, color, texture, proportion and scale.

Additional Information

A national Call For Artists helped locate artists whose work expresses the neurosciences or have a connection with a neuro-related illness or condition, i.e., an artist with MS uses art to record and reframe her illness; artists with brain disorders and injury, early Alzheimers, and those who have personal experiences as a family member. With dedicated art signage these stories are shared so viewers not only benefit from the visual experience but also the psychological, emotional and spiritual engagement that helps them feel connected to others. It is this holistic approach that defines art as a healing force.