Hospital’s ‘Dreaming Tree’ Art Takes Children Back to Nature

BOARDMAN, Ohio – When the new addition to Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley opens, patients and their families will be greeted by an art installation that employed several techniques, including 3-D printing.

The colorful “Dreaming Tree” sculpture hangs on the southern wall facing the entrance of the 51,000-square foot addition to Building A on the campus here.

“It refers back to the hospital theme, which is ‘reconnecting with nature,’” said Adam May, an architect with Hasenstab Architects, Akron. May helped design the building and is overseeing construction administration for the $20 million project.

The entrance features an 8-foot tree sculpture by woodwork artist Greg Webber, surrounded by 3-D printed animals created by Freshmade 3D, a Youngstown Business Incubator portfolio company, that were painted by area artists before being added to the installation.

May reached out to friends in the local arts community when submissions for a sculpture for the wall weren’t to hospital officials’ liking, he said. Artists of the Rust Belt, a nonprofit organization focused on promoting local artists, helped come up with the concept.

The sculpture features “a lot of animals and a lot of dreaming things” so kids have “something intriguing to look at on their path to better health,” May said.

“We always knew we wanted to do something fun and back to nature to keep with the theme of the building,” said Lisa Taafe, clinical administrative director at the Boardman campus.

“When the kids walk in, it’s fun, it’s colorful,” she continued. “They kind of forget that they’re at the doctor’s office or at the hospital.”

Expanding on the “back to nature” theme, Akron Children’s took several patients to Mill Creek Park and photographed them there. Some of those photos were enlarged and used as murals.

The addition also will feature 50 pieces of artwork made by students from the Mahoning Valley. “I’m hoping it doesn’t look like a hospital,” Taafe said. “That’s part of our goal.”

An open house and ribbon cutting will take place June 17. It will include a Naturefest celebration that will feature animal programs and a performance by Easy Street Productions.

The hospital will begin offering services in the new space July 11.

The addition will house pediatric specialty services along with the primary pediatric care office and a new service, sports rehabilitation, Taafe said.

The hospital will have 20 medical providers who will see about 250 patients daily, she added. Another 75 employees will work in the new addition.

Pictured at top: Lisa Taffe and Adam May stand in front of one of the art installation that will greet children and their families inside the soon-to-open addition to Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley.

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