St. Francis Medical Center NICU Expansion - CODAworx

St. Francis Medical Center NICU Expansion

Submitted by Noyes Art Designs

Client: St. Francis Medical Center

Location: Colorado Springs, CO, United States

Completion date: 2018

Project Team

Art Consultant

Noyes Art Designs

Noyes Art Designs

Metal Artist

Doug Gilmore

Ceramic Artist

Jutta Golas


Penrose-St. Francis Health Service

Centura Health

Architecture & Interior Design

RTA Architects


Our team was honored to create the artistic expression of a ‘healing garden’ and other areas of respite for the Neonatal ICU department inside the St. Francis Medical Center. Given the stress of having a baby in ICU, parents seek a serene retreat. We were charged with helping to create a wellness garden that would be a bright place for respite, reflection and contemplation that provided families with hope and a space to reflect on their experiences. To accomplish this, we commissioned a whimsical flowing tree, 11 feet tall by 6 feet wide. A metal artist created a trunk made of metal and textured to look like bark. A ceramic artist created blossoms in spring colors with opalescent glaze that shimmers in the light. Ceramic balls reminiscent of dandelions are lit from within and sprinkled in the grasses of the perimeter garden. We continued the healing concept to the reception area which features a painting commemorating the department’s annual NICU picnic and two art niches filled with wire and clay sculptures representing the beauty of birds and their nests.


The overarching goal of this project was to create a beautiful, soothing place of respite for families managing the stress of having an infant in the ICU.

Bring to life the artistic vision of a Wellness Garden concept complete with a magical tree as the centerpiece, welcoming walkways around it, seating area placed throughout, and a perimeter garden filled to frame the space.

The symbol of a tree was used as the basis for the selection of the artwork and the finishes. Each floor of the expansion project reflects the different parts of a tree. As the top floor, the NICU represented the “Canopy” of the tree. When commissioning the artwork for this floor, we wanted each piece to suggest comfort, nests, refuge, and growth. This theme was used in the design of the architect and interiors, so it was important for the commissioned artwork integrate into the overall design.

Continue the role of art providing comfort, beauty and hope throughout the entire department in a way that related to the canopy of a tree and the nurturing feeling of the wellness garden.


We began our collaboration with the client’s describing their vision of a whimsical tree in the center area of what was to become the healing garden of the NICU. The Noyes team proposed the idea of a metal tree with the leaves being made of opalescent glazed ceramic. The two artists, who had never previously created together, worked closely with us to construct a model that was shown to the client for approval. The client loved the sample and trusted us to select the color palette that coordinated with their overall interior design. We had to overcome possible objections due to past failures of tree sculptures in the facility which we did with great success.

As a free-standing sculpture, the process also included our coordination with the project engineers and general contractor to ensure the installation was to code.

From beginning to end, we continued to visit the artist’s studios and monitor their progress and address any unforeseen issues. By constantly communicating with every party involved, the final installation became the beautiful tree that shines bright with hope under the skylight during the day and brings solace to everyone as another healing component.

Additional Information

This project was featured in the Medical Construction & Design Magazine’s September/October 2019 issue with our wellness garden tree on the front cover.