Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nature Influences Design

Few knew that Don was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer in 1993. Given 6 months to 3 years to live, this terminal sentence instead seemed to refuel Don's passion for life. And, his passion to live in turn was driven by his love of design as well as his love to “problem solve.”

While we have concentrated on some of Don’s earlier designs, his designs in later years found Don returning to his roots. Going solo, again, in 1992, Don set up a studio in his Barrington home, invested in computers for Auto Cad, and retained and tutored a series of apprentices, many of whom lived in the “coach” house next door. One of these apprentices, Ryan Thewes, has developed a unique style all his own and will be gracing us with an article about Don.

But, I digress. One of Don’s greatest engineering challenges was to develop an entranceway to the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Zion, Illinois. CTCA’s President wanted an entranceway that was grand, but inviting, and which departed from tradition. He received such a design.

CTCA says of their entranceway, “This three-and-a-half story. . .entrance more than tripled the space available for those entering the hospital. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright protégé Don Erickson, the improved lobby houses amenities common to fine hotels.”

Constructed in 2003, the steel structure, which makes up the frame of the entranceway, is graced by glass. Couched inside the reception area, CTCA patients can experience the warmth of the sun, or watch snowflakes fall silently, or sit sheltered from a driving rain outside while inside they are surrounded by an interior landscape of trees, flowers and tropical plants, the healing balm of nature and repose.

For building watchers, the building is located at: 2520 Elisha Avenue, Zion, Illinois

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