Client: American Art Resources for MD Anderson Cancer Center and Rotary House International
Location: Houston, TX, United States
Completion date: 2016
Artwork budget: $40,000
American Art Resources
R P Art, Inc.
Eight spheres float above the hotel lobby within Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center. The stainless steel spheres twinkle, like stars, like angels, bringing hope to the people visiting the center. The lacy orbs enlivening the 41-foot-tall lobby vary in size from 16″ to 48″ in diameter. Each sphere is unique. Ulrich’s fabrication technique allows him to use light gauge stainless steel, creating work both sturdy and delicate. Ulrich Pakker collaborated on the final design with American Art Resources in Houston, the Rotary House International leaders and in consultation with members of the MD Anderson interior design staff. An initial design for the lobby space included a 72” diameter Planet sphere. Both the scope and the location changed during the design process. The final version with its many smaller spheres reflects a geometric serenity and was seen to better align with the Cancer Center’s goals.
The existing lobby, a portal into the MD Anderson Cancer Center, provided a place for respite for the visitors. Art, a non-verbal communication, held an important place in the design plans although it wasn't formally integrated into the lobby until construction was finished. The large overhead space presented the obvious place to install art. Several initial designs were deemed to overwhelming, considering the clientele. Ulrich Pakker was brought in because of his works' combination of low maintenance, high durability, creative approach and flexibility. Once discussions began, Ulrich leant his professionalism and inventiveness to the perfect outcome. The budget increased due to enthusiasm for Ulrich's ideas which allowed the quantity of spheres to increase. The final result delighted everyone involved, even the workmen whose job it was to hang the spheres!
From the initial contact between Ulrich and the client, through American Art Resources, until the installation of the spheres, there was constant communication. As the project's scope, location and budget changed, Ulrich responded with flexibility, patience, and creativity to concerns and questions. The spheres drew such positive attention from all the stakeholders. Regardless of changes, the spheres would be part of the project. Throughout the process, Ulrich was able to showcase why his work has always been successful: timeless design, responsiveness to clients, and attention to the minutest details of fabrication, installation, and maintenance.