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Collective Effort

Anh-Minh Le | February 2, 2018 | Lifestyle Story Culture


The recently opened Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, a project that garnered in excess of $265 million in contributions from philanthropists, is impressive on many levels. Totaling 521,000 square feet across five floors, the structure— referred to as the main building—more than doubles the facility’s size. Among the sustainability features are a wind turbine and water-collection system. Guided by its namesake’s belief in the healing power of nature, there are 3 ½ acres of gardens and green space. The operating suites, slated to open this spring, will boast the most innovative technology and equipment around. And then there’s the art: about 400 commissioned pieces by artists from all over the world, who specialize in an array of media.

According to Elizabeth Dunlevie, who serves on the board of directors, the hospital enlisted art consultant Annette Ridenour to identify artists whose work would best fit its specific needs. Brainstorming and some back-and-forth with the artists yielded the final concepts.

At their core, says Dunlevie, are three elements: nature, education and whimsy. Just inside the entrance, Pokey Park’s life-size “Harbor Seal” sculpture greets visitors, and a flock of cast aluminum birds by David Landis takes flight overhead. Near the Redwood Elevator, comprised of reclaimed wood from the Moffett Field hangar, is a ball machine by kinetic artist George Rhoads and Creative Machines that is sure to delight. Follow the balls as they make their way through the Stanford campus, with various artistic, academic, historical and athletic highlights. In some cases, the hospital artworks function as navigational markers, helping visitors make their way between the main building and the original west building. On the first floor, it’s hard to miss James Bottoms’ large-scale cast-bronze mama bear sculpture, while the second floor’s kaleidoscopic cow—created by Donald Gialanella using hundreds of children’s toys—is a playful point of reference.

In the Dunlevie Garden, which Dunlevie and her husband, Bruce, endowed, the animal sculptures range from a banana slug to dinosaurs. There is also a sundial with widespread appeal. “Last month, I spotted some children playing duck, duck, goose around it,” Dunlevie recalls. “Older children and adults might notice the letters in the rubber pad beneath and read the didactic to learn it is an analemmatic sundial where, if they stand at the correct spot, they can be the gnomon.” With the art throughout the hospital, she adds, “our goal is to have the experience be accessible to children of all ages, but also [have] a level of sophistication to engage patients and families with a degree of intellectual curiosity.”

Originally published in the January issue of Silicon Valley

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