The Unseen World

Submitted by Kate Kaman

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Client: Temple University School of Medicine

Location: Philadelphia, PA, United States

Completion date: 2011

Artwork budget: $580,000

Project Team

Architect

Ballinger Architecture

Ballinger Architecture

Overview

55 giant bacteria float across the ceiling and through the windows of The School of Medicine. Visible from both the interior and exterior of the building, these bacteria are truly inspired.

The artwork floating in the atrium is based on the Earth's oldest and most plentiful life form: bacteria. Inspired by the beauty and complexity of the microscopic universe, the piece enables us to see what is normally visible only to microbiologists and other specialists through magnification.

Goals

We began this project before the building was complete. The concept came to us after our first site visit. Upon seeing the interior space, and looking at it from street level, I began imagining it as an aquarium of bacteria, usually only seen through a microscope. Integration of the artwork and architecture are important to the effect. They exist hand in hand with each other, and the viewer's experience of the space.

Process

We worked closely with the architects and engineers to make this project happen. It is a complex installation with a lot of logistic and safety issues that were worked out as a team.