Harborview Medical Center Sky Bridge
YEAR & TIMELINE
2015 | 3 months
Harborview Medical Center
Illustration (Plants and Textures) |Design
Tory Franklin: Illustration (Patterns) | Design
Vinyl on Windows
6' x 74'
Harborview Medical Center is located in Seattle, Washington. My sister Tory Franklin and I were commissioned to design a vinyl mural for a skybridge connecting the West wing to the main hospital.
Harborview Medical Center wanted to address a problematic design issue–that exam rooms in an adjacent building were visible from this sky bridge which caused privacy issues.
A vinyl window application obscures the view and enhances the patient and worker experience. The hospital serves a diverse patient population from around the globe so it was crucial to make everyone feel welcome. Our design combines plants found throughout the world and patterns derived from the cultures that are most prominent in the patient population.
The three main audiences that use this sky bridge are the inpatient psychiatric population, hospital workers, and students at this teaching hospital who often eat lunch in this quiet area lined with seating. While the patient population does not spend as much time in this space, they are a priority audience.
The patient population is diverse and speaks many languages. Harborview Medical Center mainly serves patients living in Washington but because it is a level 1 trauma and burn center, it also serves patients living in Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.
Creating a calming environment was especially important for the patients. Many studies have explored the use of natural imagery on patients in hospital settings. Our review of the research showed that images of nature reduce the heart rate and create a tranquil state. Natural fractals (symmetrical and ever-expanding designs found in nature) help us make order out of chaos, which creates a calming effect. This also benefits medical personnel who are often under job-related stress and can suffer burnout.
AREAS OF ACTIVATION
Hospital staff and students interact with this piece on a daily basis so Tory and I created a design that has many points of activation, creating a constant sense of discovery. The piece has a different visual impact whether the audience views it from down the hallway or sitting directly next to the textured patterns. The all over pattern effectively obscures the windows in the adjacent building.
Even though the mural diffuses the light levels minimally, the glowing quality of light that fills the hallway is amplified giving a sense of more light and warmth. It was also necessary for the design to be effective at night when it is only lit internally from fluorescent lighting.
Early in the design stage we communicated with the vinyl fabricator and toured their facility. We shared our work to make sure that we were creating appropriate files at the right scale. After finalizing our palette, we got a sample to make sure our colors matched what was on screen and made adjustments. We learned that reds and purples are less saturated than other colors and that banding can be an issue so we added texture and increased the saturation when necessary.
This was the first public art piece I created with my sister and I want to thank 4Culture and Harborview Medical Center for giving us this opportunity. They provided support to develop our methods of working together that we have now carried through to other projects.