By MaryKate Wust

A model of a sculpture designed by artist Maya Lin appears like a branching vertical structure across two stories of an indoor space, populated by model people. The image is paired with a sketch version of the same sculpture.With its hundreds of glass beads reflecting the sunlight, and its twisting steel arms calling to mind outstretched tree limbs, the structure of DNA, and the branches of the Schuylkill River, a new art installation is set to dazzle patients, visitors, and staff this fall. Created by world-renowned artist, designer, and environmental activist Maya Lin, the intricate sculpture—tentatively titled “DNA Tree of Life”—is one of many artistic features that will contribute to the welcoming and calming environment of Penn Medicine’s new Pavilion.

The 17-story, 1.5 million-square foot, $1.6 billion facility is the largest capital project in Penn’s history and the latest addition to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) campus. A key part of the design of the Pavilion has been the thoughtful integration of art and architecture elements chosen by a committee of art experts and advocates and art consultant Ivorypress, and designed by visionary artists like Lin.

Perhaps best known for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1982, Lin has long been interested in striking a balance between the natural world and sustainable design. Her latest piece will be suspended from the Pavilion’s ceiling and positioned between the ground floor atrium and Connector Level, which links HUP’s inpatient buildings with the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

“I want to make you aware of your surroundings in the Pavilion, in this beacon of scientific advancement, connecting you to the physical and natural world around you while symbolizing the very essence of life,” Lin said. By seamlessly melding medical science, nature, and art, she hopes to promote a sense of peace and hope—two fundamental pieces of the healing process. “My approach to this piece,” she said, “is to create something that is uplifting, that has a sense of wonder and beauty.”

Read more about the Pavilion in this issue’s cover story and more about the artwork online here.

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