After five years in the works, SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital opened its 10-story patient tower in September 2020. The hospital’s art committee and interior designer collaborated with PS Art Consulting from the beginning to create a diverse and engaging art program in the public spaces of this state-of-the-art facility. Committed to art not as an afterthought but as a powerful driving force in the healing and calming of all who enter, PS Art Consulting used the interior’s wood and copper materials as a neutral backdrop for more than 115 bold-colored pieces created exclusively by Missouri artists.
While visitors may interpret some of the art as “pretty landscapes,” the canon of nature-based abstracts appeals to a spectrum of humanity. More than 115 pieces were commissioned based on the theme of various landscapes at the nearby Missouri Botanic Garden.
Each floor of the tower was defined by large-scale photographs illuminated on glass panels in the elevator lobbies to serve as wayfinding for patients and guests. Rather than simply repeating the theme of each floor’s main image, other artists on the floor used tertiary and analogous color palettes to create continuity yet express diversity.
One of the largest art pieces in this project is the atrium sculpture entitled “Not Fade Away” by artist Rachel Hayes, who was unanimously selected by the committee. The handmade yet unconventional patchwork of textiles and acetate fills the atrium with joyful movement. Reminiscent of quilts and stained glass, it embraces the sun’s changing light throughout the day and reveals new views of the surrounding landscape depending on where the viewer is standing. PS Art Consulting co-managed the installation by securing lifts that could reach the 40-foot-tall ceiling, as well as fire-tested the material to meet safety standards.
“The Five,” by Jeff Waggoner, is an iconic outdoor sculpture at the tower’s entry point that represents the five sisters who started SSM Health. The columns inspired by electrophoresis, ranging in size from 12 to 20 feet, required extensive organization, as on-site cranes and flatbed trucks were needed to move and lift the heavy columns into place. Four colorful powder-coated columns and one bare steel stand-alone column signify the community working together toward a common goal of unity.
Our goal, in any setting but especially in healthcare, is to show the power of art — to speed healing, lessen anxiety, provide distraction and bring joy. This project was an exceptional collaboration that brought the hospital’s vision to life, all carried out in a smooth process that creatively met budgets, schedules, and ensured ease and accessibility for the art’s maintenance.
St. Louis, MO
Art Package (public facing spaces)
SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital
PS Art Consulting - now Design Studio Blue Art Services
The Lawrence Group