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TTU System Celebrates Latest Addition to its Public Art Program in El Paso

Helix Garden is located at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso outside of the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing.

May 29, 2015 | Contact Doug Hensley

Tedd L. MitchellComprised of tall sandblasted glass frieze and overlapping glass panels, Helix Garden is designed as a double helix with LED lighting.

Texas Tech University System officials and guests celebrated Thursday (May 28) the unveiling of the newest addition to its Public Art Program in El Paso.

Designed to communicate healing and wellness, Helix Garden is located at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso outside of the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing. The piece, created by artists Elizabeth Billings and Andrea Wasserman, is a continuous sculptural experience featuring an LED-lit double helix that spans across 150 feet, joining the Medical Education Building and Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing. It comprises tall sandblasted glass frieze and overlapping glass panels that create both public spaces for congregating and more private places for sitting and studying.

“The graceful and vibrant sequence of imagery is a metaphor for the many and varied layers of healing, and the elongated sculpture becomes a landmark and entryway for the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing,” wrote Billings and Wasserman in their proposal for the artwork.

Helix Garden glows at night, giving emphasis to the etchings as well as guiding visitors to the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing entrance. The etched glass panels use solid-state LED technology that provides extremely efficient fixtures and low-maintenance demands. The materials used to create this piece were chosen to not only complement the larger architectural scheme of the surrounding buildings, but also because they are durable and respectful of the environment.

“By displaying a powerful depiction of health and energy, we hope to create a stronger sense of the importance of culture, the wonder of science and the beauty of education so that our students, faculty, patients and residents experience a greater attachment to our community and the health sciences center,” said Dr. Richard Lange, president of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.    

With offices in Vermont, artists Billings and Wasserman have created numerous public art projects in the United States for government buildings, medical, law, and other educational institutions, including Harvard School of Public Health in Cambridge, Mass.; Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire; and the College of Pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, Rhode Island.

“We are thrilled to work with such talented artists as part of the Public Art Program at the Texas Tech University System,” said Chancellor Robert L. Duncan. “These artworks are an investment in the thriving campus environments at each of our institutions, and I know Helix Garden will be a beautiful and inviting complement to the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing.”

The installation of the piece was made possible by the TTU System’s Public Art Program, which was initiated by the Board of Regents in 1998 to enrich the campus environment and extend each university’s educational mission. Through the program, public artworks are funded using one percent of the estimated total cost of each new major capital project. Since then, more than 100 items created by some of today’s leading artists have been added to the TTU System’s campuses. 

“Helix Garden is a beautiful symbol representative of the science of nursing and the art of caring for the El Paso community,” said Dr. Jeanne Novotny, dean of the Gayle Greve Hunt School Nursing. “This beautiful space will inspire and encourage our students while they are on their journey to becoming a nurse. It is with great appreciation that we thank the artists who created this exquisite quiet area for reflection and inspiration.”

Helix Garden, public art installmentGuests at the unveiling ceremony enjoy Helix Garden, a continuous sculptural experience featuring an LED-lit double helix that spans across 150 feet and joins the Medical Education Building and Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing.

About the Texas Tech University System 
The Texas Tech University System is one of the top public university systems in the nation, consisting of four component institutions —Texas Tech UniversityTexas Tech University Health Sciences CenterAngelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso—and operating at 12 academic sites and centers.  Headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, the Texas Tech University System has an annual operating budget of $1.7 billion and approximately 17,000 employees focused on advancing higher education, health care, research and outreach around the globe. 

In 2014, the Texas Tech University System endowment exceeded $1 billion, total research expenditures were approximately $215 million and total enrollment approached 47,000 students. Whether it’s contributing billions of dollars annually in economic impact or being the only system in Texas to house an academic institution, law school and medical school at the same location, the Texas Tech University System continues to prove that anything is possible.

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