SSM Health is a Catholic healthcare system that wished to showcase its Franciscan heritage, which emphasizes the healing qualities of nature, through the art. The expansion of SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital – Lake Saint Louis not only added 84 new beds, but also transformed the campus into a welcoming, hospitality-inspired setting that enhances the patient and staff experience. These renovations were part of a larger expansion that added three floors to the existing hospital near St. Charles, MO, and for which ARCH Design consulted on and managed several original art commissions and over 140 framed art prints for the newly renovated patient corridors and elevator lobby.
The wood paneled elevator lobby proved a special challenge, since nothing could be hung on the wall, and the space between the wall and the elevators is too shallow for a freestanding sculpture. ARCH Design’s consultants thus proposed an unconventional tapestry of metal objects, which is hung from the ceiling. From a distance, the work resembles a cascading waterfall, and draws patients and staff down the long corridor to the lobby.
Its shimmering texture evokes the lake’s surface, while its structure resembles fishing nets. With the allusion to fishing, there is the potential to interpret the piece within the framework of Christianity. Others might simply be drawn in by the individual elements that make up the whole. Indeed, upon closer inspection, one discovers fragments of Missouri maps, which the artist included per the suggestion of the ARCH art consultant to further ground this commission in its local setting.
In addition, ARCH Design collaborated with artists on two additional lake-themed commissions for the west corridor: a pair of wood mosaic triptychs painted with a wave-like pattern and a triptych of handmade paper pieces beautifully framed in shadow boxes that likewise suggests flowing water. Overall, these spiritually natured mixed media pieces lend a welcomed sense of warmth and peace to this healing environment.