Hospitals don’t often make the list of buildings worth seeing when you are out in the world travelling, but the 286-bed Harlem Hospital Center in the United States of America’s iconic New York City certainly now belongs there – thanks to its striking 2012 addition, The Harlem Hospital Center Mural Pavilion.
What sets the $325 million healthcare facility expansion apart from the rest is the very clever, block-long glass facade which is adorned with massive (60-foot tall) historically significant Works Progress Administration murals.
The six-story, 195,000-square foot Pavilion connects two major hospital buildings, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Pavilion and the Ronald H. Brown Ambulatory Care Pavilion, creating one large, integrated campus for the 286-bed Harlem Hospital Center. The Mural Pavilion houses a number of suites to serve the hospital’s 232,353 annual outpatient visits, including the Bariatric Center of Excellence, surgical clinics, women’s imaging department, and pre-admission testing suites.
The Harlem Hospital already has a history with art, and as such the Mural Pavilion is no different, featuring a special public art gallery space to showcase the hospital’s historic Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project (WPA) murals.
Originally created in the 1930s, these powerful artworks were the first major commissions awarded to African-American artists by the U.S. government. These works, by artists such as Vertis Hayes, Alfred Crimi, Georgette Seabrooke, Elba Lightfoot, and Charles Alston, have all now been fully restored and are on permanent display in the hospital’s Mural Gallery.
The glass facade is of course the most striking feature of this new building, and the panels making this possible are themselves quite a feat of engineering ingenuity – after all, each panel essentially needs to solve six problems in one solution: a long-term UV stability of the image; the option to replace individual components if damaged; the ability to produce image in single glass panels up to 12’-0” long; transparency allowing daylight in, views out, and a glowing image at night; energy conserving assembly; and impact resistance.
The end result?
Something rather special.
(Note, hospitals are intended for people who are actually sick. If you are just looking to lose weight, don’t bother them and rather just eat less. Something any health guide reviews site should be pointing out.)