Knotted Grotto (Francis House of Peace) - CODAworx

Knotted Grotto (Francis House of Peace)

Submitted by Daniel Ostrov

Client: Project Home

Location: Philadelphia, PA, United States

Completion date: 2015

Artwork budget: $200,000

Project Team


Daniel Ostrov


Industry Resource

Stephanie Cole



Meg Saligman - Lead Artist

Meg Saligman Studios


Elliott Lamborn


Sara Breznicky, assistant


Thaddeus Wascheck, assistant


Savannah Hudicka, assistant


Harry Friedman, assistant

Industry Resource

Jason Danowitz

Starlite Productions

Landscape Architect

Robert O'Sullivan Landscaping


The sculptural shelter was created using laminate and steam bent wood building techniques and made from Mahogany and Ash. The circular structure itself is 22 ft wide and 10 ft high at the top. The sculpture is part of the “Knotted Grotto” installation that includes a painting called Mary Undoer of Knots that was created for Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia.


The goal of this project was to create a space where people could come and unburden themselves of their troubles. Visitors would receive strips of fabric that they would use to write their own struggles, prayers or intensions. They would tie their own strips onto the grotto and then find another person's written struggle that they related to and untie that knot. They would then weave the untied know into a different location in the installation. As the struggles multiplied they created an enclosed meditative sanctuary for the viewers.


Stephanie and Daniel were brought into this project by lead artist Meg Saligman who they have worked with in the past. Meg conceived the overall idea of the installation space and concept design of the Grotto shelter and put them in charge of building the Grotto. Daniel and Stephanie figured out how to build it and were full collaborators on the final design and form of the sculpture. Once they had a design ready, they led a team of fabricators in the construction of the sculpture.

Additional Information

The highlight of this project was when Pope Francis visited the Grotto and blessed the struggles. I can not imagine a greater moment then seeing place his hands on the piece and close his eyes in silent prayer. It was really a dream come true for all of us involved.