St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children
Marbles can capture the attention of young and old alike. So, when roughly 180,000 individual marbles were assembled in a series of panels to create this stunning hot air balloon mural, one can imagine how uplifting the images are for those who pass through St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.
The design was developed as a series of multiscale experiences intended to create a positive, age-neutral mural that continuously engages over time. And since the theme of the project was “play and place,” the designers used marbles as color and light pixels to appeal to different ages and provide interest and discovery over a number of patient visits.
The marbles shimmer in the lobby light, providing a playful visual for younger children and pleasant recollections for adults. In the morning light, the color of the marbles reads more clearly, but in the evening, the reflections of the artificial lights soften their colors. Like tiles in a mosaic, the marbles read as an abstract composition up close, but emerge as an image as the viewer steps back.
A millwork subcontractor constructed the panels, each weighing 200 pounds, and another firm translated the image into a coordinated system that provided the framework for the marble arrangement and selection.