How is our brain changed by the space we work in? What does that space do to make us thrive? These are questions that animate Sandi Chapman, Ph.D., the founding director of the Center for Brain Health (part of the University of Texas at Dallas). Her inquiries are not just academic; at the Center’s new Brain Performance Institute—where clinicians and therapists work to improve brain function in healthy people through preventive care, and treat brain-based conditions and disorders including dementia, PTSD, and ADHD—she has translated the ideas generated by these queries into the three dimensions of building.
“A lot of clients don’t ‘get’ architecture,” says Lawrence Speck, the design principal for Page, architects of the 60,000-square-foot, $29-million facility. “She gets it. She sees architecture as a tool.” One of Chapman’s core principles is that there should be variation and surprise in architectural spaces. “This idea of a nimble environment is very good for the brain,” she says, indicating the need for movement between spaces. “We wanted each room to have a different feeling when you go into it, so you have a sense of unexpectedness.”
Chapman’s imperative for architectural diversity is manifest in the form of the institute, which the architects designed as, essentially, two interlocking buildings in one: an L-shaped clinical facility, and an elliptical atrium building wedged into its elbow. The curved component is not just an abstract formal gesture; it is a work of representative design, or architecture parlante, intentionally shaped like the brain’s frontal lobe. “This is the very front part of our brain that makes us different from every other living thing,” explains Chapman. “Architecturally, we created what we stand for.”
Chapman’s philosophy is also apparent in the institute’s entry sequence. From a landscaped parking area, visitors proceed under the shade of a long canopy, through a compressed, slate-colored lobby, and into the light-filled, three-story atrium, a gathering space and waiting area. An exposed stairway rises up through the ovoid room, leading toward a cable-suspended paraboloid ceiling of blonde wood slats that brings visual warmth as it dissipates sound. “The convex aspect transfers noise to the perimeter of the room,” says Ricardo Munoz, a project designer. At night, the building glows from within, advertising what is going on inside to passersby on the busy thoroughfare it faces.
A secondary entrance to the building, it should be noted, leads directly to an elevator bank, for those with conditions like PTSD, who do better without the “wow” factor. These patients can also decompress in “warrior lounges,” on the second and third floors of the institute. These niche-like spaces, paneled in dark wood and with plush seating, are designed for those who might not be comfortable in the atrium’s open settings, and are happier sitting in confined spaces where they cannot be surprised by someone’s approach. “Some veterans don’t like to be in open spaces, with people behind them,” says Chapman.
The elliptical volume is a bravura work of structural engineering, supported by a ring of 78 steel fins, each 62 feet tall, that encircle its perimeter. Designed in collaboration with the revered Dallas engineer Tom Taylor, the 20,000-pound elements march around the exterior, separated by tall windows, creating an accordion effect on the facade.
“We wanted something to awe you, because the brain likes to be awed,” says Chapman. “It changes the neurotransmitters.” A large multipurpose room with a 30-foot ceiling that occupies one end of the oval illustrates those transmissions with an art installation suspended from its ceiling. Created by David Gappa and titled Introspection, it is an abstracted interpretation of the brain’s synapses, their firings illuminated by LEDs embedded in glass tubes.
Contrasting with the rounded structure it embraces, the L-shaped form is clad in cool charcoal gray panelized fiberboard with vertical window frames outlined sharply in white. The private offices within have windows to the outside and translucent glazing facing the hallway, allowing light to filter into the circulation spaces. Clinical “brain-training rooms,” where clients can meet with clinicians for testing, counseling, or treatment, also line these corridors, and either admit daylight or block it, as per the demands of treatment.
“The thing Sandi said one thousand times was, ‘Don’t make it look like a hospital,’ ” says Speck. It doesn’t, nor does the office component look like a typical open-plan layout, something the architects also intentionally avoided in response to the client’s desires. “Open plan spaces can be devastating for brain productivity,” says Chapman. “People have to put on visual blockers and headphones just to keep from being agitated. They have to work harder just to do the things they’re doing.” At the Brain Performance Institute, the architecture should keep the mind engaged, if not excited, but without the agitation.
Trinity Terrace has an absolutely fantastic location in the heart of Fort Worth, Texas. Trinity Terrace is a premier continuing care retirement community that has enriched the lives of its residents with their one-of-a-kind art.
David Gappa and his team created and installed, “Crystal Oasis” in 2017. “Crystal Oasis” is nine-feet wide by fifteen-feet long, and weighs an impressive 1,500 pounds. The ceiling installation of glass consists of over 225 Crystal Spheres and 275 Frosted Optic Spheres that were all hand-blown. David Gappa says, “For me, working with glass is the magical act of translating the ethereal into solid form. The creation of each piece is a journey, as I strive to trust in the path our creator chooses for me…a trail of color, form, and function.” Inspired by all that Trinity Terrace does for its residents, David Gappa and his team are truly blessed to be a permanent part of their establishment.
The magic and beauty of biology have inspired artists for centuries. David Gappa’s newest installation titled “Introspection” is a visible interpretation of an often hidden process in our bodies: the communication of nerves. Designed to capture the essence of thought as it pulsates through a field of synapses, Gappa’s piece artistically translates the catalytic movement of energy as it transfers through our creative minds.
Designed for the Center for BrainHealth, a part of The University of Texas at Dallas, “Introspection” is scheduled to be installed in April 2017. Fifty-feet wide by forty-feet long, and weighing an impressive 5,300 pounds, the intricate installation of glass and steel consists of 175 LED-illuminated glass spires and 1,050 hand-blown glass spheres. Each five-and-a-half-foot spire is individually illuminated, and when programmed, slowly pulsates an array of colors across the entire piece, similar to the electric impulses passed from one nerve cell to another. As the focal point of the research institute’s multi-purpose room, “Introspection” will serve as a visual reminder of the institution’s commitment to enhancing, protecting and restoring brain health across the lifespan.
Local Artists Reveal Right Brain Secrets of Success
Starving artists? Not here in Northeast Tarrant County. Surprisingly, the area known as home to corporate executives, professional athletes and soccer moms also has a thriving arts scene, most recently exemplified by the 11th Annual Art in the Square in Southlake and 2010 Bear Creek Art Gala in Keller. Nurtured by organizations such as Arts Council Northeast, Apex Arts League, Young Artists of Texas, city governments, chambers of commerce and community groups, there are year-round opportunities to appreciate the arts.
This influx of culture has become a breeding ground for local talent. With dozens of artist-owned galleries and studios throughout Northeast Tarrant County, it appears that professional artists are catapulting their talent into successful businesses. And at a time when corporate America is struggling to make a profit, it is inspirational to see “right brain” individuals achieving success in business acumen. N.E.T Business Resource examines the affect a creative mind has on the bottom line by profiling three local individuals – Olivia Bennett, Trish Biddle and David Gappa – in their dual roles as artists and business managers. By combining an inherent passion, natural talent and smart marketing, each has reached national acclaim as a professional artist.
Like the glass he molds, award-winning glassblowing artist David Gappa forges his talents to give them back to God.
When David Gappa took a glassblowing class at the University of Texas at Arlington 16 years ago, he didn’t imagine it would someday become his career. He was, after all, studying for his master’s in architecture.
“I was able to take two semesters of glassblowing” at UTA, Gappa explained. The St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parishioner is now a master glassblower, but at first he said, “I just looked at it as pure enjoyment. It was something that allowed me to escape from the drafting table for a few hours every few weeks.” After getting his master’s, Gappa went on to become an architect with Quorum Architects in Fort Worth for the next 10 years. But his passion for glassblowing didn’t fizzle out. It continued burning steadily, and soon after joining Quorum, he got together with a group of other artisans to form a co-op studio in 1999 in Grapevine known as Vetro, Italian for glass.
Now, Gappa is the owner of that studio and gallery (which last year was named the best art gallery in DFW by WFAA-TV). He’s become a nationally renowned glassblowing artist, his art has won awards by the dozens and been displayed in numerous art galleries including the Arlington Museum of Art, and the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, among others. He has done commissioned works for the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Fort Worth, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Center for Brain Health in Dallas, the Harris Methodist Dream Home, and various churches around the diocese, including St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Carrollton and Good Shepherd Parish in Colleyville. All the while, he’s continued to combine his Catholic faith with his passion for art in the service of others. Read more »
The house, substantial and impressive, sits in a trendy enclave of Southlake that not so long ago was tree-dotted meadow land. It’s surrounded by equally remarkable homes.
It is a big house, boasting five bedrooms, eight baths, five fireplaces, a gourmet kitchen inside and another outside, adjacent to the pool and pergola. There are two laundries — a small one upstairs and a big one downstairs — a game room, a media room, a “teen lounge,” an exercise room, a wine room and two studies (one for him, one for her), as well as a “study area” in each of the three upstairs bedrooms. There’s also a “tornado room” outfitted with generators, a steel door and beefed up walls to secure the family against any big wind.
But behind the custom-carved, basket-weave double front doors of this 9,800-square-foot residence, interior designer Tiffany McKinzie, working closely with the homeowners, has created a safe haven that feels unexpectedly cozy and surprisingly comfortable without the burden of opulence.
David Gappa’s exhibit, titled “Spirit of Glass” will be showcased at the Amercian Fine Art Gallery, September 22nd from 2:00p.m. to 8:00p.m. in conjunction with the Dallas Fall Gallery Night.
Artist Statement: “My work is primarily inspired through sectional glimpses into our surroundings. Objects within a space are equally important as the negative space the objects create, and it is my desire to infuse the viewer into a special realm of transparency and color. As a viewer approaches a glass installation, I crave they are drawn into the vignettes of negative space. I want the viewer to get lost in the simple complexity of form, shadow, and light, or enveloped within the hues of color that only Glass can emit.
For me, working with glass is the magical act of translating the ethereal into solid form. The creation of each piece is a journey as I strive to trust in the path our creator chooses for me…a trail of color form and function.”
“Spirit of Glass”
American Fine Art Gallery
September 22nd… 2:00pm-8:00pm
1611 Dragon Street
Dallas, TX 75207
Westlake Students Help Create Handblown Sculpture for School Fundraiser
Our team here at Vetro Glassblowing Studio was excited to be a part of the Westlake Public Art Society and Collaborate With Westlake Academy Foundation For their Annual Gallery Night Fundraiser. We invited the 6th grade class to come out to the Glassblowing Studio and be a part of creating a Magical Glass Flower composition. Each of the students helped apply the glass color and melt the colors in the 2,400 degree furnaces. Will Frary, the Grapevine Blacksmith forged these awesome steel stems which we embeded into a large stone base. I am sure Tim Burton would approve! Read more »
An effervescent cascade of white glass bubbles intermixed with delicate glass teardrops flows down from the ceiling in front of a crimson wall. The 14 feet of dynamic handblown glass pieces illuminated and suspended with delicate wiring is called Crystal Mist, and it is the careful work and vision of David Gappa, owner of Gappa Fine Art Glass. Read more »
Vetro founder David Gappa designed this one-of-a-kind dining table for a private residence. Gappa’s vision was to capture a small framework of pure color and light thereby drawing the viewer into an ethereal landscape he calls ELYSIUM. Read more »