St. Vincent’s NICU
The design firm that hired us to fabricate these stylized birch trees for the neonatal intensive care unit at Saint Vincent’s Hospital wanted something that was immediately recognizable as trees but that also fit in with the unit’s clean lines and uncluttered feel. Our final design needed to be stylish and cheerful, but more importantly, given the function of the space, easy to clean.
The initial concept we received from our client depicted a canopy of leaves that hung from the branches above the counters and work spaces of the unit. Our first thought, having worked in these kinds of medical environments over the years, was that the leaves would collect dust and debris and be extremely difficult to clean effectively. We inverted the canopy, creating large, vacuum-formed plastic covers that could be lit internally to show a colorful pattern of leaves without any horizontal surfaces to collect dust. PVC tubes with a dimensional bark and a textured paint scheme served as the trunk of the tree while covering an existing structural column. All surfaces were “low relief” or smooth so that they could be cleaned with no more than a damp cloth.
By simplifying and refining a client’s concept, we can often improve an idea in regard to its practical application and even cost effectiveness. The trees at Saint Vincent’s Hospital are a fine example of why our clients come to us to make their ideas even better.