The importance of art in healthcare spaces is an idea that has blossomed in the last decade as more designers and operators recognize the healing benefits of positive distraction, nature views, and daylight within their care environments.
When Grinnell Regional Medical Center (Grinnell, Iowa) had the opportunity to build out vacant shell space to enlarge its chemotherapy infusion treatment services, it was presented with a large open area with lots of windows that brought in n abundance of natural light. On the down side, however, was the view since the 30 windows overlooked a parking lot.
Artist Lee Emma Running was hired to create an art installation for the new suite, which provided a solution to that view by using the windows and suite walls as a canvas for a botanical art installation. Inspired by the abundance of hydrangea flowers in Iowa, Running sought to capitalize on the light coming into the space by creating a piece that would extend from the windows to the walls of the new 1,360-square-foot suite, making the space feel private while also referencing the dappled light of sitting outside in the natural world.
The piece includes a 200-foot dimensional mural of painted flowers and hand-cut silhouettes for the hallway into the suite, while the waiting room and treatment spaces windows are etched with floral patterns, creating a botanical screen on the windows. “Working on the glass itself means the light changes the botanical shadows in the room over the course of the day,” Running says.
Kevin White, owner of Kevin White Design (Des Moines, Iowa), which provided design, documentation, and management services on the expansion project, says he worked with Running to bring her concept to life by adding drywall bulkheads above the infusion bays and around the nurse station so there would be more surfaces to mount the flower pieces, which care fastened using small hidden brads.
Running worked with local students to produce the botanical pieces, which totaled more than 60 hand-cut pieces of PVC material and stencils for 30 windows. The final masterpiece, she says, is a space that feels beautiful in any season and kind of light.
“I wanted it to be calming for patients who were returning to the space for multiple treatments, and attractive for the nurses and staff who work in the space every day,” she says.