A Very Moving Day

Yesterday we finished a delicate, demanding, and very rewarding project: Relocating an extensive 20-foot-long, 8-foot-high crystal Donor Wall, which we created in 2002-2003, to the second story of the elegant and airy new lobby of the University of Utah Hospital’s vastly expanded patient care pavilion.

In addition, we installed a “sister” Donor Wall (above) to honor the generous people who helped fund the new lobby. In creating this new wall, we used the same materials –- carved crystal and gold-leafing -– the same theme and the same design vocabulary so that the two walls would have artistic unity.

The theme we carried over into the new Donor Wall is the aspen tree, which, besides being beloved in the Salt Lake City area, is symbolic of deep cooperation. A quotation on the original wall expresses it perfectly:

"Like a grove of aspens, all seemingly separate trees
but in reality united beneath the soil,
we are all members of a single family,
the family of humankind."


This quote also speaks to the diversity of people needed in a facility of this stature –- donors, medical professionals, support staff and volunteers –- and the dedication to helping others that unites them.

In fact, the original Donor Wall included the names of some 2,800 donors! Every single person who made a donation, from local philanthropists to the hospital janitor, was listed.

The hospital’s new Donor Wall is 10 feet wide by 6.5 feet tall, and is located in a very prominent position, at the top of the escalator leading to the second floor of the beautiful 40-foot-high atrium. It is the first thing you see as you get off the escalator. In addition to the artwork and donor names it has some lovely inspirational quotes, including this one, which really touches my heart.

"We are the leaves of one branch,
the drops of one sea, the flowers of one garden."


From left, Charly, Joe and Jason insert panels into custom brackets

We were delighted to hear that the original Donor Wall was being retained despite all the new construction. As architectural artwork, it is so very unique and interesting. It has stood the test of time as a permanent monument and is well worth the effort of moving it. In addition, as the Major Gifts Officer we originally worked with pointed out to me yesterday, once you promise a donor that they will be permanently recognized, it’s crucial to keep that promise, even if the existing building undergoes renovation.

We also did a moving job (no pun intended) on a Tribute we created in 2003 for George and Dolores Dore Eccles. The Tribute uses formal, contemporary photos of the donors etched into a carved crystal panel that floats over a second crystal panel, which shows a warm and inviting image of the couple dancing together when young.

This is one of my favorite Donor Tributes because it shows the two philanthropists as real people loving and enjoying their lives -– what a cheerful sight for any hospital passerby whose load may need lightening.

Note: The University of Utah Hospital’s new lobby is featured in a fascinating article in Medical Construction & Design magazine about the important role lobbies play in providing visitors with a warm and reassuring welcome. This is even more vital at the University of Utah Hospital, where some 10,000 people enter the lobby every day!