Brooklyn artist Spencer Finch’s largest artwork of his career will be revealed when the new Johns Hopkins Hospital complex in Baltimore, MD opens next month. The new facility, visible from miles away, is enveloped by Finch’s colorful 250,000 square foot curtain of glass and steel, and the entire project was an enormous collaboration between 70 artists, architects and a curator.
The 1.5 million square foot building will be a leading model of how medical care can be enhanced by colorful art and design. Finch’s work is what first greets visitors. Each aluminum panel within this massive curtain features two layers of glass through which Finch’s colorful alphabet gleams. The palette of 26 shades of colors, inspired by Claude Monet’s Impressionist landscape paintings, is meant to remind visitors of water’s calming features. Contrast is also a defining feature, with the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center wrapped in blue. The nearby Sheik Zayed Tower, for adult medical care, will shine in hues of green.
The result is a facade that captures natural light from the sky and allows the buildings to blend in with the local urban environment. Finch spent months testing a wide range of colors for the buildings’ exterior to find the palette that would best fit in with Baltimore’s daytime sky. He then worked with Perkins + Will, the buildings’ lead architect, to find the best way to execute his vision while constructing the panels to stand up to elements including sun, wind and rain.
For Finch, the finished facade is not just an exterior to protect the building – it integrates art and design into the building’s functionality. During the day, medical care professionals and their employees will feel warmth from generous amounts of natural light. At night they will feel comfort from effects similar to a glowing lantern and even a snow globe. The building’s canopy sets the tone for the rest of the hospital. Inside, massive sculptures, work inspired by children’s books and modern furniture will lend an air of healing, all continuing the message Finch sends with his vibrant and protective exterior.
Lead photo by Clayton Allis