Over the past two years, WUSM and BJC employees have been working with artists, architects and construction crews on the newly opened BJC Institute of Health at Washington University School of Medicine and the Ellen S. Clark Hope Plaza. Design work for the plaza’s sculpture was done by world-renowned artist, Maya Lin, best known for designing the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. The landscape design was developed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. of Boston. Yesterday’s grand opening ceremony was attended by Maya Lin and U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.
One WUMC employee who has been working on the project since its inception is WUMCRC Executive Director, Brian Phillips. Today, we got a chance to ask Brian about the project:
What was your involvement with the new Hope Plaza?
“When the new Institute of Health was being planned, a project team was created to devise plans for a new plaza. At first, the plaza idea was pretty mundane, but soon the idea took off. The Hope Plaza was really created out of a significant opportunity. By recognizing that Euclid Avenue is truly at the heart of the Medical Center and through a generous donation from an anonymous donor, the project team was able to envision a plaza that could be far more prominent and involve internationally recognized artists.”
Why is a public space like this important to WUMC?
“Spaces, whether inside or outside, can really drive innovation and creativity. This peaceful plaza, sitting at the juxtaposition of so many different facilities, operations and institutions, is such a contradiction to the hustle and bustle of the Medical Center. By sitting right at the center of this hub of activity, there now exists a new, unique, peaceful place for people to slow down, relax and experience something completely different than what’s happening all around them.”
Most of your work focuses on Forest Park Southeast, but what other work are you involved in with WUMC?
“In addition to work in the neighborhood, WUMC serves as a real-estate holding company that holds stewardship over properties until they are needed for medical expansion. I also serve on the WUMC Facilities Committee that is comprised of the top facility personnel at the various member institutions. The committee serves as a coordinating and communications entity for our member institutions. As Executive Director, I report to and serve the leadership of the various member institutions, which comprise my board of directors. The board tackles a number of campus-wide issues and opportunities. It serves as a high level communication forum for the member institutions. It has become a great forum to develop new strategies and implement projects and initiatives campus wide. Presently, we are discussing WUMC urban design.”