Crossing the bridge of hope
Cannon Design's relationship with Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston has encompassed more than 20 successfully completed projects, wide-ranging in both size and complexity. Recently, BWH held a “completion celebration” for the Bridge of Hope, a newly renovated corridor connecting the hospital with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The corridor, which is traversed by patients receiving cancer treatment, has been transformed from a bleak 200-foot-long hallway with exposed utility piping, into a lushly illustrated, animated experience for all who pass through. Cannon provided engineering, interior design, and coordination services for the project on a pro bono basis.
Conceived and organized by Estrellita Karsh of BWH's Friends Art Committee, and designed, drawn, and executed by Nan Freeman, a prominent Boston artist and faculty member at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Bridge of Hope includes artwork covering the entire corridor with a captivating, joyful mural featuring 149 realistically painted birds, each carrying sprigs of medicinal herbs. Emily Dickinson's poem “Hope is the Thing with Feathers”—a partial inspiration for the mural—appears in its entirety among a verdant thicket of rosebushes.
“Although I was familiar with Cannon Design and their previous splendid work at Brigham, I was very impressed with their commitment and emotional understanding of the importance of the Bridge of Hope,” said Kathleen Monbourquette, Friends of BWH President. “They treated a 200-foot-long corridor with the same meticulous attention to detail as a major project.”
Nan Freeman and the project's construction manager, W.A. Berry, collaborated over more than three months to complete the Bridge of Hope mural. The first stage was the application of an initial base coat of standard sky blue latex paint on the corridor walls. Next, using acrylic paints, Freeman painted the mural design, completing the design portion with an isolation brush coat finish called a polymer gloss. Finally, the artist sprayed a final coat of varnish on the mural.
The completion celebration concluded without a dry eye in the house. Estrellita Karsh's story of one Museum School artist who invited a six-year-old cancer patient to join her in painting a bird that was dedicated and forever to be known as ‘Lydia's bird.’ Her mother described how her chemo treatments are now all about visiting ‘her bird.’ “This is what the project is about,” said Karsh, “an experience for the patient.” HD