Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
A translucent sculpture cultivates emotional connection to a research institution.
A basket of light reaches toward the sky outside the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, reflecting the spirit of the institution—optimistic, interconnected, collaborative—and offering a beacon for excellence and hope.
Monumental but delicate, Ed Carpenter’s Vessel achieves both lightness and structural integrity using aluminum, stainless steel, and slender strips of dichroic and beveled glass, its base surrounded by honeysuckle vines that climb its lattice. Working at both an urban scale and a human one, the sculpture is highly visible to passing motorists and pedestrians, and intimately accessible to anyone who walks through the leafy core of the sculpture itself. By day, it changes with the sunlight and weather; by night, it glows with dramatic lighting.The design for Vessel faced a unique challenge. The sculpture needed to be tall to provide axial views in scale with nearby buildings, but a tunnel running beneath the site meant the artwork had significant weight restrictions. Laminated and tempered safety glasses strengthen the aluminum pieces, creating longer spans at lighter weight than conventional construction methods would have allowed.
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Vessel was commissioned by way of a gift to the Hutch from the family of a former scientist, which specified that the donation be used to create outdoor art. As the piece was the first major exterior integrated artwork on the campus, 4Culture was hired to manage the artist selection, consult on the installation, and help the organization’s art committee develop best practices to guide their future public art project management.Based in Portland, OR, Carpenter has completed numerous public art projects in the United States and Japan. Though he is primarily a glass artist, recent commissions involve many different materials; he considers his work to be as much about natural light as it is about glass. Other 4Culture consulting commissions include Silver Thaw outside Redmond City Hall.