Primordium and Tapestry of Life - CODAworx

Primordium and Tapestry of Life

Client: University of Buffalo, Clinical and Translational Research Center

Location: Buffalo, NY, United States

Completion date: 2013

Project Team


Talley Fisher

Talley Fisher Studio

Art Consultant

Lynne Rider

Rider Frames and Gallery


Timothy Murphy, MD

University of Buffalo Clinical and Translational Research Center

Industry Resource

John Boekelman

Cannon Design, Structural Engineer

Industry Resource

Roger Machin

Methods and Materials, Art Installation


This project involved a request for two different suspended sculptures, both within a very long, approximately 125'L x 35'W, four story atrium. "Primordium", consists of four aerial compositions, each 6'L x 6'W x 45'H. "Tapestry of Life", a wall hanging, is 1'D x 36'W x 40'H. Made of anodized perforated aluminum triangles, they are reminiscent of the exuberant soaring of birds, wings, and flight. Pertinent to this facility, they also suggest the decoding and development of organisms under the microscope at the molecular level.


The goals for integration of the sculptures into the project were straightforward: they were to introduce two large unique suspended artworks, into two areas in the atrium, and to create interest in and enliven the empty and the 60’ high space. The first area is a narrow four-story atrium that presents hundreds of metallic colored “wings” or organisms in “Primordium” to office windows and walkways on the sixth, seventh and eighth floors. The second, where the atrium opens up on the fifth floor into a much larger space, features “Tapestry of Life”, which dances on the wall of the social area, engaging researchers while they gather for special events.

The physical integration of the artworks into the building was another story. The research center is on the fifth to eighth floors, posing a very surprising and challenging problem. At a site visit, it was discovered that an aerial lift would not fit into the freight elevator.


Extensive collaboration was crucial to the successful outcome. Many people were involved in getting the facility prepared for installation and solving the problem of access to the fifth floor for the lift. The Director of the CTRC, along with the University of Buffalo staff architect and the director of construction, worked with the highly creative installer from Chicago and the owner of the lift rental company from Kansas to find the answer. A small roof access door on the fifth floor was determined to be the most suitable place to bring in the lift. The lift was hoisted by crane outside of the building where it squeezed through the 36” door. A week and a half of installation went smoothly, and the lift exited through the same small door. Consulting with the artist, the installer and the CTRC staff, the Structural Engineer from the engineering company for the building, lent Invaluable advice for suspension systems and hardware. Skillfully coordinating dates and details of the project and serving as the liaison between CRTC and the artist, the art consultants were immensely important in this collaborative effort.