Studio lilica

Studio Lilica

What art offers is space—a certain breathing room for the spirit.

—John Updike

Imagine a state-of-the-art healthcare facility guided by principles of design that promote wellness, comfort, and healing. That’s exactly what Kaiser Permanente did when they envisioned their new full service hospital in Panorama City, California.

The new medical center features contemporary Architecture by CO Architects and modern interior design by Pickett Design Associates; it is the first in a series of 11 hospitals to be built in the next five years by the nonprofit health maintenance organization serving more than 6.1 million members throughout the state of California.

The synergy of art, Architecture, and design in the new $280 million, 400,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility mirrors Kaiser’s longstanding collaboration with their patient community to promote health and wellness. “Our goal was to design a healing environment that promoted and acknowledged the physical and spiritual wellness of our members and health care providers,” says Senior Project Manager for Kaiser’s Capital Projects Group, Gunther Kilfoil.

From the moment one steps into the light, open lobby, time seems to slow down and one feels space expand. Without even realizing it, the body relaxes as one takes in a calming color palette of light earth tones complemented by rich warm copper, brick, and burnt orange accents. Original works of art line the walls and are lit by natural sunlight that streams through the oversize windows that gaze into the hospital’s solarium-like entry and into the eco-friendly rock garden beyond.

From the start, the inclusion of art was a key component of the hospital’s design and selection of original works began with Kaiser’s Art Committee. A team of 18 administrators, architects, doctors, nurses, and interior designers worked with art consultants Dee Ann Preis and Robin Spears of Dee Ann Preis and Associates to find the right fit of art and artists for the new space. Preis and Associates, drawing on their extensive experience developing art programs, interviewed a number of artists for the project before making their final selection. “Art provides a place for healing and serenity,” says Preis. “We wanted to honor the Architecture in our selection, and this helped us to choose work that would live organically in the space.”

The art program extends throughout the hospital but it is the lobby that sets the tone for the patient experience. Reflecting Kaiser’s desire to further humanize the patient experience, the lobby was conceived as an open and inviting gallery space. Visitors are welcomed by Zen-inspired glazed stoneware platters by ceramicist Masuo Ojima; a 15′ × 5′ vitreous enamel on copper panel populated with richly hued sunflowers titled Garden Vista by Phillip Smith; and Backyard, Laurel Canyon, a photographic triptych mounted on aluminum by Katy Parks Wilson.

One of the most striking architectural features of the lobby is a two-story atrium that expands the waiting area vertically to the floor above. For the centerpiece of the atrium, Dee Ann Preis and Associates chose Studio Lilica to design and fabricate a mobile for the main lobby utilizing colors that complemented the Architecture and interior design. Known for their Lightform Sculptures and original architectural lighting, Studio Lilica was a natural fit for the project. “We were looking for a work of art that would fill the atrium in a way that would shelter the lobby while holding space for the sky.” says Spears. Studio Lilica founder Carl Royce says of the design process, “We thought a lot about how people experiencing the piece might be feeling in this environment. Because hospital settings can often be anxiety provoking, we wanted to offer something playful but with a feeling of grace; something that would lift people’s spirits and make them feel light.”

The result was a kinetic fabric sculpture 12′ high and 15′ in diameter. The mobile, Fortune Cookies, consists of three curvilinear sculptural forms floating in space that rotate gently with available airflow. The mobile’s warm orange tones complement the earthy palette of the art while enlivening the granite in the Architecture. Constructed of inherently flame-resistant fabric on a fiberglass frame, Fortune Cookies is the crowning glory of the dramatic two-story atrium. “We loved that the mobile had a subtle movement because the piece literally transforms as it glides through its cycle of motion. The Fortune Cookies mobile inhabits the space in a way that’s very peaceful,” notes Spears.

As the focus on design becomes more important and healthcare transitions to “wellcare,” art will have an ever-more important role in the healing process. Pickett Design Associates Principal Christine Hardin says, “We interact with our surroundings through our five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Hospitals, more than any other project type, depend on the positive influence of the art program. We were gratified to see how well the art program complemented our interior design concept celebrating cultural diversity and the healing influence of nature. The importance of first impressions, ease of wayfinding, celebrating local culture and ethnicities, all help to create an ambience that encourages art appreciation and the establishment of a ‘pride of place’ concept.” HD
Carmel mcfayden

Robert Canfield Photography

Studio lilica

Studio Lilica

Lisa Quiñonez is co-founder of Studio Lilica, headquartered in Duarte, California.

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