More Culture:

January 28, 2021

Renowned artist Maya Lin to install sculpture at new Penn Pavilion

'DNA Tree of Life' will greet patients at new state-of-the-art hospital

Art Hospitals
Maya Lin Penn Medicine Maya Lin Studio/Penn Medicine

Designer Maya Lin's 'DNA Tree of Life' will be installed at the new Penn Pavilion, a 17-story hospital in West Philadelphia slated to open later this year.

Penn Medicine's ambitious Pavilion hospital in West Philadelphia is nearing a full opening in 2021, expanding on the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania with a 17-story facility that has been several years in the making.

A centerpiece of the new $1.5 billion facility will be an art installation from designer and architect Maya Lin, whose acclaimed work includes the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the Langston Hughes Library in Tennessee.

Lin's upcoming project, tentatively titled "DNA Tree of Life," will be on display in the atrium of Penn's new hospital, rising up through the first two floors of the building.

The design resembles the shape of DNA spreading out like branches of a tree in the shape of the Schuylkill River. 

"My approach to this piece is to create something that is uplifting, that has a sense of wonder and beauty," Lin said. "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 — DNA."

The steel tree structure will be suspended from the ceiling of the building's Connector Level, a series of bridges linking HUP East, HUP West and the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. It will reach down to the ground floor of the Pavilion.

"Art and design can be a transformational element of a patient’s experience. It was important to select pieces for HUP East that will convey a sense of peace and healing in this new landmark for exemplary care, as well as a welcoming, vibrant atmosphere for our patients, families and staff," said Regina Cunningham, CEO of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. 

"Maya Lin thoughtfully designed a sculpture that connects the fundamental elements of life and science to our health system and the Philadelphia community, and we look forward to its installation as we prepare to open the doors of our new patient pavilion."

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Penn and its construction partners accelerated work on the Pavilion to open 150 patient rooms that could serve as potential surge space.

When the full hospital opens later this year, it will include 500 private patient rooms and 47 operating rooms.