Swanson Family Chapel - CODAworx

Swanson Family Chapel

Client: Dignity French Hospital Swanson Family Chapel

Location: San Luis Obispo, CA, United States

Completion date: 2024

Artwork budget: $635,000

Project Team

Artist / Crafts person

Elizabeth Devereaux

Project Manager

Owen Gabbert

Crafts person

Marie Swanson

Crafts person

Abraham Devereaux


Offering comfort and hope, this hospital chapel glass art was named “The Ribbon of Hope” by donors, Bill and Cheryl Swanson. The 700 sq. ft. window design evokes the uplifting movement of birdlike forms within an atmosphere shifting with colors, representing the earth and sky, body and spirit. The custom flashed (micro-layered) mouth blown glass changes with the light throughout the day from an almost solid limestone-like effect to a glowing sunset warmth of the micro-layers of the glass. Diffusing the view outside, the glass creates a quiet private space of comfort within for those patients and loved ones dealing with anxiety and loss.


The goals were to have a chapel environment which welcomes all faith traditions, but also provides an atmosphere of hope and comfort to those experiencing anxiety and possible loss of a loved one. The window design flows throughout the chapel windows in all four directions, creating the thematic focus, “The Ribbon of Hope”, but is carefully integrated into the desired simplicity and calm of the understated interior space.


In the early part of the process, I worked with the architects, the interior designer, as well as the hospital chaplain and administration. The hospital CEO found donors, Bill & Cheryl Swanson, who came forth with a very generous donation for the whole chapel and the adjacent new bell tower. The CEO, seeing the natural and appreciative connection the donors and I formed, asked us to work alone together to create the designs. I found them to be very sensitive and knowledgeable collaborators in the design process, so after understanding the architectural intentions, the interior design and materials, and the light requirements of the glass in all four different directions, I brought in different possible design directions, and together, we selected and developed the designs which conveyed the most meaningful expressions for the space.

Additional Information

This design was further refined by eliminating lead lines, and fabricating instead glass laminated with optical silicone. And by eliminating some of the structural framework, which the donors felt interrupted the design, we ended up with 260 pound panels. This exponentially increased the complexity of the fabrication, but fulfilled the simplicity and calm the donors and I preferred.