Cancer Center in Arizona Lights the "Lantern of Hope"

Aug 5, 2011 Cannon Design has posted beautiful pictures of one of their recently completed projects - "Lantern of Hope" for the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Arizona’s Southeast Valley. The Lantern will shine all night, every night, as a beacon of hope for cancer patients.

The Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center will be opened this September but its four-story architectural feature (it stands one floor higher than the center) already shines bright beginning from this Tuesday.

Here are main features of the project highlighted by the Cannon Design team:

The Lantern of Hope is a symbolic structure. At 64’ tall the structure rises to mark the desert as a tree of life. The palo verde tree – known in arboreal terms as a nurse plant for its protective role in the life of other desert flora and fauna – is the point of departure for this open-air entry pavilion. Fractal patters of both brand and leaf are translated to the computer for the digital fabrication of 32 1” thick water-jet cut aluminum panels. The panels are comprised of over 10,000 unique opening. The panels – bead-blasted with copper shot in order to soften the material’s presence in the desert sun – form the outer layer of this structure. An inner scrim of fabric activates the element and the space it contains. By day, the fabric captures the projected image of the palo verde for a softly luminous space of transition to the building. By illuminating the fabric with color-changing LED lighting, the tower becomes a lantern at night. The colors of the lantern can be coordinated with the specific cancer disease awareness month, giving the whole element a didactic purpose.

There were a few distinct challenges in lighting the “Lantern of Hope.” First and foremost, the desired nighttime effect was very specific – the four story structure needed to glow internally, ideally uniformly, backlighting the cut panels by transforming the internally stretched fabric into the luminaire. By day, the lantern’s fabric will act in a scrim-like manner, welcoming patients and staff to the facility under a dappled canopy of sunlight filtered through the palo verde-esque canopy etched into the tower’s panels. Due to the dichotomic nature of the two lighting effects, minimalism became important when selecting the means of lighting the structure at night. To that point, respecting Dark Sky ordinances, an especially sensitive issue in Arizona, became another concern. Several approaches were evaluated, and eventually we settled on slim, linear RGB colorchanging LED fixtures mounted at the bottom of the lantern’s panels, allowing for ease of maintenance as well as concentrating a higher intensity of light along the base of the lantern. During the day, the fixtures are camouflaged by matching the lantern’s horizontal elements and do not interfere with the playful daylight activating the building’s entry.  At night, the double row of precisely aimed luminaries creates a continuous gradient of light spanning the eleveation of the structure. This approach reinforces the concept of the structure’s expression of a candle of hope to patients, their families, and the staff working to eradicate cancer. With millions of potential colors of continuous color-changing, smoothly fading, dimmable light, the lantern gives our client ability to distinctly brand their state-of-the-art facility with a symbol as clear as the Arizona night sky.

The lantern was designed by David Polzin, Andrew Gilles, and Jonathan Wirth of our St. Louis office, in collaboration with DPR and Novum Structures. The lighting design was done by Sara Schonour in the Boston office.  Matt Forman, the project architect, coordinated every detail of the lantern’s final manifestation.


Author:  Alice Jones

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