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B L O O M I N G T O N H O S P I T A L C H A P E L
Photo: Chris Howell
Bloomington Hospital was beginning an expansion project and I was selected to create stained-glass windows for its chapel. The chapel is located near the main entrance and is a visual focal point for the facade of the building.
The committee represented a multitude of religious faiths, including a Catholic nun, Buddhist, Unitarian, Jew, Hospital Chaplain, and Protestant. The project committee represented leaders from all of these faiths, working together to make an inter-faith chapel where everyone can feel welcome. The hospital Director, facilities director, CEO along with board members, the lead architect for the building project and the interior designer comprised the main decision body representing the committee.
My thoughts about the project
People come to a chapel to celebrate the birth of a child, mourn the loss of someone they love, or sit in silence to digest the many things a hospital contributes to their life.
I listened and met with the committee many times as the collaboration unfolded. I stood in the space where bulldozers had moved the earth preparing for the building. Later I spent time in the empty interior as the window openings were framed. Yet. a physical reality is but one element of the whole.
The main inspiration for the windows came early one morning as I walked to a high hill near my home. At the top of the hill a brilliant orange sun was rising over the eastern horizon. I turned and before me tree branches framed the light of full moon. In that moment I held the essence of the hospital chapel design. The forms of ancient Indiana crinoids entered into the design as a symbol of life evolving.
Process and fabrication
A major issue in the design was the goal of a calm, private internal space with chaos and high traffic flow on the exterior. The windows faced north, which is the calmest light. (Stained glass likes moving daylight, to give it a bit of drama.)
I selected a 'robin-egg' blue opaque glass to block the car traffic in the lower areas of the design. Highly textured clear glass visually camouflages a building across the street, yet allows natural light to enter in upper sections. The transition from an opaque white in the lower area of the moon shape into an almost clear opal in the top area allows a great deal of light into the chapel, while diffusing it and radiating the calm light of the full moon.
Photo: Chris Howell
The Chapel is one of my finest artworks, in part because of the open-minded committee who gave me complete freedom in the design. We worked together before they broke ground for the hospital expansion. Time-shared was a luxury and contributed greatly to the success of this large-scale project.