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Friday, June 1 • 10:30am - 11:00am
(Architecture) Moving a Monument: The Relocation of Extending Arms of Christ at Houston Methodist Hospital

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Extending Arms of Christ is a 96’ L by 16’ H site-specific mosaic mural created in 1963 by Bruce Hayes for the front façade of Houston Methodist Hospital. Originally consisting of 3 large scale panels of Italian glass tesserae on a concrete bedding, the mosaic was designed to be the most prominent decorative feature above the entry doors to a major teaching hospital associated with Houston’s Baylor University medical school. Distinctly modern in character, the mosaic features the Christ figure with extended arms at the center of a geometric abstract background that is punctuated with stylized imagery of modern medical equipment, doctors, and historical figures, like Florence Nightingale. In 2014, RLA was contacted by Hunt Construction Group, a firm overseeing expansion of the hospital, to determine if the mosaic could be relocated into a 50’ atrium within the lobby of a new tower addition. Over the years, the mosaic had become obscured from the street by trees lining the sidewalk. A porte cochere, added in 1987, had covered up the bottom 4’ of the mosaic. Relocating the mosaic would allow it to be showcased once again for hospital patrons, as well as preserved and protected in a controlled interior setting. Moving an artwork of this size is challenging under any condition. This one was further complicated by its location over the hospital’s main entrance and next to the emergency room driveway, which barred the use of a crane or blocking of the street. A test probe revealed that the mosaic was separate from the wall of the building and therefore theoretically detachable. However, preclusion of the crane meant that the original panels, which measured 38’ 6” wide by 16’ high and weighed approximately 10,850 pounds, would need to be cut to allow them to be lowered by a gantry that could accommodate a maximum of 400 - 500 pounds. Our first task was to figure out how to do this without impacting the design elements, and determining in advance that the mosaic could later be re-assembled seamlessly. Because design of the new addition was completed by the time the mosaic relocation was considered, our next challenge was how to reinstall the artwork onto a metal stud wall. The engineer’s design solution involved the use of plywood, which raised concern because of possible warpage in the event of a catastrophic weather event. Said event occurred on August 25, 2017, when Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston Metropolitan area. Installation of the 93 cut mosaic panels was completed at that point. Only the repair of the join lines remained to be done. As of this writing, we have not been able to return to Houston after Harvey. However, Hunt construction informs us that the mosaic is intact. As part of this presentation we will reveal what, if any, impact the hurricane had on the mosaic. The goal is to complete the conservation by December 2017.

Speakers
avatar for Kelly Ciociola-[PA]

Kelly Ciociola-[PA]

Senior Conservator, RLA Conservation
Kelly Ciociola holds a 2010 Masters in Historic Preservation with a concentration in materials conservation from the joint program of Clemson University and College of Charleston . A Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, she presently serves as Senior... Read More →

Co-Authors
avatar for Rosa Lowinger-[Fellow]

Rosa Lowinger-[Fellow]

Managing Principal, RLA Conservation
Rosa Lowinger has been a conservator of outdoor sculpture and public art since 1984. A graduate of the Conservation Center at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts and a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation, she is the principal of Rosa Lowinger and Associates, a private sculpture... Read More →
avatar for Christina Varvi-[PA]

Christina Varvi-[PA]

Senior Conservator, RLA Conservation, Inc.
Christina Varvi, Senior Conservator and Professional Associate of the AIC, holds an M.S. in Historic Preservation with a concentration in Materials Conservation from Columbia University. A specialist in architectural and public art conservation, Christina is RLA’s lead professional... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 10:30am - 11:00am
Texas Ballroom C Marriott Marquis Houston

Attendees (39)