UW News

August 2, 2019

UW selects artists and tops out Population Health Building

UW News

rendering

An artist’s rendering of the new Population Health BuildingThe Miller Hull Partnership

The University of Washington today announced the topping out of the new $230 million Population Health Building. The UW also has selected two artists whose work will help tell the story of the education and research that will take place within the new facility.

Construction of the eight-story building at the corner of 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Grant Lane began in April 2018. Workers today will “top out” the building — a term builders use to mark the completion of the structural parts of the building — by installing a girder signed by university dignitaries, the design-build team and representatives of the donor.

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The event comes at the same time that the vision for the building’s interior is beginning to come to life. The selected artists, RYAN! Feddersen of Tacoma and Rachel Mica Weiss of both Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, will produce original pieces to align with the underlying vision for the building: to create an interdisciplinary center on campus for the study of population health and to be a home for the Population Health Initiative.

An artist rendering of the new Population Health BuildingThe Miller Hull Partnership

The building was made possible by a transformative $210 million gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in October 2017, and $15 million in earmarked funding from the Legislature.

“We’re excited to work collaboratively with both of these fine artists as they help to create an inspiring and transformative experience for the tenants and guests in the new building to improve population health,” said Ali Mokdad, chief strategy officer for Population Health and a professor of health metrics sciences at the UW.

Schematic

A schematic shows where on campus the Population Health building is sited.The Miller Hull Partnership

The university will invest approximately $1.1 million in artwork for the building, roughly split at about $85,000 from public funds and the remainder from private donors.

Feddersen was chosen for the state-funded portion of public art. She was selected because she offers a fresh perspective that engages an audience and always provokes thought, officials said. A member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Feddersen was chosen on May 30 and is currently developing the creative concept for her piece.

Weiss is a sculptor and installation artist whose work reconstitutes various boundaries —architectural, topographical and psychological — to demonstrate their impact upon audiences. Her installation practice is rooted in the craft of weaving: its technical processes, historical uses and relationships to architecture. Weiss was selected by the project’s internationally-recognized chief curator, Lisa Freiman, in collaboration with an art advisory committee comprised of representatives from the UW faculty, staff and students as well as the Gates Foundation.

The artwork Weiss has proposed for UW is “Boundless Topographies,” which will sit at the heart of the new building and is meant to reflect the collaborative spirit of the Population Health Initiative. Comprised of about 8,000 individual strands of 1⁄4-inch nylon rope suspended across the span of over 60 panels, the floating landscape will model a new topography: an integration of the highest summit from each of the seven continents. Most importantly, the artist reiterated, these newly unified land masses underscore the reciprocity and shared responsibility at the core of population health across the globe.

The UW’s Population Health Initiative is an effort to create a world where all people can live healthier and more fulfilling lives. The UW defines population health as revolving around three major pillars — human health, environmental resilience, and social and economic equity.

Over the next quarter-century, the Population Health Initiative will expand the UW’s ability to tackle the most pressing challenges faced by patients, populations and the planet with actionable policies, reforms, interventions and innovations.

As part of the initiative, the new building will create a space for interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation to better understand and improve all the factors that influence the health and well-being of populations here and across the globe. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the Department of Global Health and portions of the School of Public Health all will be located in the building.

Construction is expected to be completed by fall 2020.

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