Remember when you were a child, how excited you were exploring the seashore and tide pools on the beach? This was Gary’s inspiration for this series of ten mosaic panels and floor terrazzo design. This series of mosaic panels evoke a walk along the California seashore. Here is a look at these California seashore mosaics for the main lobby of the new Stanford, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, opened in December 2017 in Palo Alto, California.
Leatherback turtle chasing jellyfish mosaic. This view shows the terrazzo shoreline and the cast bronze sand dollars (also installed by Drostle Public Arts) around the seashore themed reception desk.
The new Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital is set to be the flagship hospital for the inclusion and integration of art in hospitals. This modern, high tech building is filled with original and inspiring art around every corner. The hospital aims to provide it’s patients, staff and visitors with an environment that is welcoming, friendly, interesting and fun. Certainly a far cry from the old utilitarian hospital design.
Using art to enhance the environment has a proven track record in healthcare provision. In fact Gary‘s very first job was painting murals in hospitals. Nowhere are these benefits felt more than in the provision of children’s health services. The new Stanford Children’s hospital is packed full of sculptures, mural panels, photographs, information panels and mosaic art. This hospital sets the standard for what art can do in the healthcare environment.
Arriving at a design for the California Seashore
Ground floor terrazzo plan
The overall arts concept of the building was to reflect the local flora and fauna of Northern California, connected to the elevation. So that the basement represented the ocean, the ground floor represented the seashore, the first floor the forests and so on, up to the mountain tops. Working with healthcare arts consultants Aesthetics Inc, architects Perkins+Will and the client, Gary designed the ground floor terrazzo to echo the seashore. Along this seashore Gary placed ten mosaic panels. “The idea was to create the mosaic panels as discovery points across the floor, each panel containing differing flora and fauna of the California seashore that visitors could explore from one to another”.
Terrazzo: A technique of mixing coloured stones and other materials with cements that is poured wet onto the floor and then ground and polished to form a decorative surface. In this case Gary used a palette of four colours to create a seashore design.
This series of mosaic panels was one of two series completed for the new hospital: ‘A Walk along the California seashore’ for the ground floor; and ‘A trail trough the redwood forest’ for the first floor.
Seagull panel cartoon in the studio. Here you can see the original design and the full scale cartoon for the mosaic along with various reference photographs for the flora and fauna.
Making the mosaic
Once designed and approved all the mosaics were made in Gary‘s studio in London. Using unglazed ceramic, porcelain, and the traditional paper faced reverse technique, each tile (tesserae) carefully cut and glued, by hand, onto a full scale paper cartoon of the design.
In order to ensure that the mosaic panels matched the terrazzo floor, rigid templates were made for each panel. These were used to create the mosaic cartoon and then to fix on site before the terrazzo was poured.
Gary begins work on the first mosaic panel, a seal chasing a mackerel which is the first mosaic panel the visitor sees as they arrive at the main entrance.
Making the kelp panel mosaic. Here you can see the tesserae being glued to the full scale cartoon.
Full steam ahead – Claire Notely and Marilu Palmieri working in the studio
Gary in the studio checking one of the completed mosaic panels fixed on paper.
Arriving in California to begin the on site mosaic works
Gary and his team first arrived on site to fix the mosaic templates and template plugs for the cast glass leaves. This was done alongside the steel terrazzo bars which were set out before the terrazzo was laid. This was done to ensure a good fit for the mosaics. On the first floor steel bars were used to delineate the terrazzo colours which would form the forest path.
Marc laying out the mosaic and glass leaf templates alongside the terrazzo bars on the first floor.
Installing the mosaics
Once the mosaics were complete and the terrazzo floor ready, the mosaics were packed and shipped to the site. Gary and the team then arrived to install the mosaics. The mosaics were installed into the spaces left in the terrazzo and grouted, cleaned and sealed.
Gary and Giulia Vogrig fixing the Seagull panel mosaic. You can see one of the unfixed mosaic sections in the box on the left.
The completed mosaics
The entrance lobby, showing three of the mosaic panels: Seal and pup; The kelp tide pool; and the Elephant Seal.
California seal chasing a mackerel
The Kelp tide pool mosaic panel
Mackerel shoal mosaic panel
Seal and pup mosaic panel
Bullwhip kelp tide pool and Dungeness Crab on Rock mosaic panels.
Dungeness Crab and mussels mosaic panel
Seagull mosaic panel view
detail of tide pool mosaic
Leatherback turtle chasing a jellyfish mosaic panel
Elephant seal mosaic panel
Probably the most tricky of the mosaic panels was this stair wrap tidepool mosaic which curves around the striking entrance lobby staircase. The stairs lead up to the first floor where the Redwood Forest mosaic trail is located.
Coming soon – the report on the first floor Redwood Forest Trail mosaics…