Noah’s Ark

The Long Island Jewish Medical Center needed to expand its Hearing & Speech/Otolaryngology Center, an on-campus free-standing building located near the Main Hospital. P. Chow Architect was commissioned to create the new, dynamic addition in New Hyde Park, N.Y. As part of the firm’s task, the architects were asked to incorporate distinctive, large-scale wood sculptures throughout the space. Natural stone and modern resin wall panels were introduced to enhance the warmth of the wood and the sculptures were built into the walls, rather than merely placed upon them.

Lower level waiting area

Pamela Chow, principal of the firm, worked closely with Dr. Allan L. Abramson, MD FACS, chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Disorders, to plan the addition. It was Dr. Abramson’s admiration for the work of sculptor Paul Stark that led to the incorporation of the magnificent myrtle wood sculpture featured in the main entrance lobby of the 7,600 square foot $4.5 million addition.

Main lobby

Working with an irregular site, rigid setback requirements and limited square footage, Chow and her team distinguished the new addition with a profusion of natural light and elements that provide patients with a sense of tranquility and spaciousness, aspects that were missing from the original building design. Natural stone is prominent in the main entrance lobby and contemporary crushed blue glass floor-to-ceiling resin panels provide a sense of privacy for the administration suite.

Entrance vestibule showing juxtaposition of natural stone wall and lobby sculpture


The architect collaborated with Betty Sarmiento, the North Shore-LIJ Health System’s director of facilities design, and Joseph Esposito, the System’s project architect, to create definition of the building mass, including the incorporation of a two-story, sloped glass wall that adds a sense of spaciousness to the lower level waiting area and inundates the otherwise underground space with natural light. The System’s project manager, Dwight Scheible, provided invaluable management through the construction process. His extensive experience and wide-ranging expertise helped bring the building to fruition.

Nevertheless, it is the art program, developed as an integral part of the design that adds an aura of uniqueness to this project. Paul Stark created the lobby’s full wall artwork specifically for this site. It showcases North American and Israeli endangered species and is carved from myrtle wood. This rare wood, found only in the Pacific Northwest and Israel, is a very difficult and challenging material with which to work. A broadleaf evergreen, it is extremely slow growing and can take up to 100 years to reach full maturity. Ranging from black to blonde, myrtle is prized for its beautiful grain.

An existing group of carved bears by Paul Stark was moved to the intersecting point at the main staircase between the two levels of the Center. Another wood sculpture by Stark, entitled Noah’s Ark, was relocated to the downstairs waiting room and a number of other individual pieces were carefully placed throughout the addition.

“Great care was taken,” says Chow, “to incorporate this artwork harmoniously into the project. A great deal of consideration was given to their locations to properly showcase each piece.”

Clutch of bears at the main stair

Given the size and weight of the individual pieces, special framing was required, using heavy gauge studs and false walls to create flush installations with accent lighting incorporated into surrounding wood frames.

Axis Construction Corporation of Hauppauge, N.Y., was the construction manager for the new addition. W&C