University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro - CODAworx

University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro

Submitted by CAMA

Client: Princeton HealthCare System

Location: Plainsboro, NJ, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $400,000

Project Team


Robert Hillier

HOK / Hillier / RMJM

Interior Designer

Renaldo Pesson

HOK / Hillier / RMJM / CAMA

Art Consultant

Rosalyn Cama, FASID, EDAC

CAMA, Incorporated


Rosalyn Cama

CAMA, Incorporated


The mission for the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro’s Art for Healing initiative is to create an environment that enhances the well-being of all who come to the medical campus. This 636,000 square-foot state-of the-art hospital on a 171-acre healthcare campus, opened in May 2012. This initiative is based on the principles of evidence-based design, in which credible research is applied to achieve the best possible outcomes. Studies have shown that art selected by these principles is health inducing. The hospital is a member of the Pebble Project, the research program of CHD.


The Art for Healing Program at Princeton HealthCare System is to create an environment that enhances the wellbeing of patients, staff, physicians, volunteers and visitors. Our vision is to position Princeton HealthCare System at the forefront of the use of the arts in healthcare.

Criteria for Choosing Art
• Help UMCPP to become a destination for viewing
• Reduce stress for all who experience it
• Create a sense of community and familiarity, without excluding those who are unfamiliar with or new to the central New Jersey area
• Reflect UMCPP’s commitment to diversity and inclusion
• Reflect UMCPP’s respect for each individual
• Positively affecting those who view it by comforting, inspiring, empowering, and/or enlivening them
• Be site appropriate
• Be durable and maintainable

The success of the art program was imbedded in its inclusion during the planning and design of the facility. The art serves to set the tone for the patient experience, either as a landmark for wayfinding or through its alignment with Biophilia that is known to reduce anxiety, pain and length of stay. Unexpected was the community’s pride in recognizing the healing powers of local artwork.


A Pebble Project commits to using baseline knowledge in all aspects of its planning and design. The art consultant on this project also served as the evidence-based design consultant thereby providing orientation and lectures so that all involved would deliver on the project’s mission. The plan to integrate art and artful details started early. At the point of developing commissions or selecting acquisitions the art team along with a committee of volunteers followed through on a well-defined plan. Selection and siting included architectural, lighting, signage and donor recognition consultants. The Development team also hosted a series of lectures so that the community would become oriented long before the installation occurred. Although some works were commissioned for a site specific many sometimes had their site designed specifically for them as noted in the piece “Moment” by artist Gordon Gund, a local blind sculptor who donated two of his pieces for two of the six healing gardens on the campus this one at a major entry. Finally a local framer was engaged to participate in the museum quality installation and recognition of each work. The collection of 100 pieces stands to be recognized as one truly customized Art for Healing collection.

Additional Information

A business case can be made for the use of art in a healthcare facility as a wayfinding system. A wayfinding system that is not intuitive can become quite costly. The annual cost of a flawed wayfinding system at a major regional 604-bed tertiary care hospital was calculated to be more than $220,000 per year. (Zimring, 1990). Research has shown that people rely on cues from their environment to form cognitive maps in order to navigate to and from their destination. Appropriately scaled, memorable pieces of art, strategically located at key corridor intersections, become critical landmarks.