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Expanding sky-scape in Lexington Corporate Office Brahmasthan Ceiling

"You fulfilled all that we asked for beyond our expectations."

Client Brief:
Enhance the feeling of light and space in the upper cupola/atrium of the corporate office with a spatial, cosmic design that expresses universal value. Use clear, bright colors.

The central atrium (brahmasthan) of the building is huge - the three-tiered ceiling and upper wall areas on which we worked totaled over 860 square feet. There are windows all around the three layers of the upper cupola, with lots of light flooding into the atrium (brahmasthan), which is open to all floors. All the offices open up into the space, so it affects everyone working in the building.

Design Concept

We used a "cosmic sky-scape" as the design theme for the ceiling paintings, with swirling clouds of golden atmosphere spiraling out from the 'burst of light' in the center of the top panel. The main 'swirling space' design continues across the three layers of ceiling (gold on the top center panel, celadon/turquoise in second level, and clear blue in third level) and the vertical panels below. As the design progresses outward from the celestial center, the clouds become more defined and 'manifest'. (The 42" x 42" acrylic painting of the ceiling was used as the reference for painting the finished canvases.)

A grid of gold-leafed stars behind the swirling clouds and on some wall panels below the ceilings represents the continuum of the unmanifest field of creation that underlies all of the manifest fields - the clouds obscure the grid of gold stars, as though hiding the unbounded continuum. The 'stars' are the Sanskrit letter 'A', the first sound of the alphabet, the first sound of creation, representing the universal symbol of Totality, wholeness underlying everything.

Around the lower section of the atrium walls, and in the opening through the second floor, we gold-leafed a spiral border pattern. This decorative pattern represents the emergence and collapse of creation from point to infinity and back again - infinite dynamism. As one moves around the room this dynamism is emphasized by the movement of light on the gold-leafed design.

Our Approach

The building was in rough construction phase when we first saw it, so we worked with the architect and, from the architectural plans, built a model of the section we were to decorate, so that we could evaluate the view of the ceiling from each floor. To show the relationships of all the elements to the client, we painted detailed renderings of the ceiling & wall designs, and the spiral border pattern.

Working closely from our "sketch-rendering" we painted and applied gold-leaf to all 13 ceiling-panel sections on canvas in our studio, then traveled to the site to install them, with the aid of a wall-coverings expert. The spiral border patterns that run around the 2nd floor and lower section of the atrium walls were gold-leafed directly on site.

One of the biggest challenges with this kind of project is that we are installing finished artwork in a building that is still very much "under construction", (with the noise, dust and entropy that accompanies any building construction project) because the scaffolding has to be dismantled for the carpentry on the next floor to be done. And because of the huge scale of the project, we were not able to see all the painted panels together until they were all up and in place!

There is always an element of trust that is demanded when the client sees only a scaled-down "sketch" and working model for a huge art project that will profoundly affect their space and environment. With even the clearest description and most detailed models & painting sketches, the true magic only happens when all the elements come together in the space itself. When the scaffolding was removed (both for this project and for the "sister" project in Houston TX) the effect was as impressive to us as to the clients!

The combination of the artwork together with the architectural structure makes the whole central atrium now glow with light and color, and the feeling of expansion is tangible… it feels like ones head is somehow "opening up" when one is in the brahmasthan area, looking up into the clear, swirling, spiraling space above.

The gold Sanskrit-letter "stars" that are in a grid across the painted surface respond differently to the light that falls across them - so they appear and disappear as one sees them from different vantage points around the room. The whole effect is very silent, very expansive and inspiring.