Donor Art That Delights a Diverse Audience

Amri-nationwise super closeup
How do you design a Donor Wall to please a hospital's sophisticated philanthropist-Donors that will also entertain and divert the children who come there for treatment?


Hummingbird resizedOur answer was to incorporate 3-D layers of child-pleasing elements into a 26-foot-long museum-like diorama that we hand-carved and hand-etched into crystal.

The wall is filled with life-size fluttering butterflies, tiny creatures for kids to discover, and leaves whirled by the wind, all of which are illuminated with warm programmed LEDs that shift colors and patterns at the walking pace of passersby. These shifts make the leaves appear to dance and the butterflies fly across the full width of the wall.

Our dynamic “moving” wall at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus also serves as a wayfinding icon that keeps hundreds of passersby each hour moving in the correct circulation pattern on a magical "Forest Path" (an inlaid swirling floor design) toward their destinations and the elevators.


Brad Feinknopf for Nationwide Children's Hospital

Besides pleasing their big donors and delighting their young patients, Nationwide Children's asked us to create a piece that would integrate into their highly imaginative "Magic Forest" environment, created by renowned museum-exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum.

Playful, Applebaum-designed images from nature were printed on walls, constructed in 3-D, and carved from solid wood. An interactive play area features two-story trees and oversize whimsical animals carved by merry-go-round artisans.

We worked with the interior designers, hospital staff, and their very "hands-on" lead donor, Abigail Wexner, to continue their theme, philanthropic branding, WELCOME messaging, dimensionality, and warm glowing color palette in our Donor Wall.

Colored LEDs in shades of warm white, pale pink, and amber are mounted above and below the four layers of art and glass panels. When edge-lit, glass acts like a fiber optic, carrying the color through the 1/2" thick crystal panels and making the art elements “pop” like a 3-D hologram.


Brad Feinknopf for Nationwide Children's Hospital

We achieved the dimensionality by creating a deep curved architectural surround to hold four layers of dynamic images, including dewdrops on the grasses, butterflies (Nationwide's new logo), chrysalises, snails, bees, flowers, and hummingbirds. In addition, on the top layer of the bevel-edged crystal, dedication text and donor names float in columns on every panel. All texts are carved in deep, V-cut monument-style letterforms.

Butterfly resizedMany weeks of careful lighting engineering and intricate programming with electronics engineer Tim Feldman were spent in the dark hours of the night to achieve the mood of the forest and the playful movements of each fluttering butterfly and swirling leaf in the glowing crystal.

It was very satisfying to create a light-filled installation that will warmly greet children and their anxious families and set a positive mood for the care to come.

We also loved continuing our working relationship of many years with this virtual city of caregivers (more than 5,000 on staff), having previously designed and fabricated the celebration wall (depicting the bright blue and gold collision of subatomic particles) in their Research Institute and the innovative hand-painted "circus horse" (below) for their Center for Child and Family Advocacy.