Augsburg University Embraces Integrated Art With Help From Forecast Consulting

Augsburg University recently opened their new Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion complete with striking art throughout. An array of artwork is integrated brilliantly into the windows, floors and stairwells of the building and seen along the hallways and outside classrooms.

Augsburg University faced the unique challenge of intersecting three distinct fields study—science, business and religion—in a building with active classrooms, laboratories and independent learning spaces. At the center of the project was the desire for the structure to accurately represent their foundation and core identity of deep traditions: durable faith, inclusion and experiential learning. They addressed this through the innovative and thoughtful incorporation of visual installations that encourage visitors to reach for something larger than themselves.

To identify and facilitate the impressive list of artists for the project, Augsburg University hired our experienced and networked Forecast consulting team. Jack Becker of Forecast was the lead on the project and worked with the University, architects and artists to help turn the concept into reality.

“The idea of bringing art into a building is not new. What was new was the degree to which Augsburg was interested in engaging key alumni, faculty, and staff to shape the way art could express more about the intersections created by the mix of disciplines and ways of teaching and learning that would inhabit the building,” said Catherine Reid Day of Storyslices Inc., a communication consultant to Augsburg on the project and core team member. “Working together, we relied on the expertise Jack and Forecast bring to the process of developing criteria for the art and artists, surfacing exceptional artistic talent, and facilitating conversations about the way the art and artists could stretch to innovate and dive deeper into the core values and ideas of the building.”

The building project included two phases, the first involved selecting five individual artists and artist teams to work directly with HGA Architects and Engineers to design integrated public art elements, such as a terrazzo floor by Stanton Sears and Andrea Myklebust and a custom designed fritted glass curtain wall by Andrea Stanislav. Greta McLain painted two full murals within stairwells, Interwoven and Emergence (pictured above), while Teri Kwant created a skyway glass treatment entitled Both/And, as well as custom “Tablets” including selected texts from multiple religious writings. The last integrated element is a colorful suspended glass sculpture in the chapel, Trans:Perspective by Bebe Keith.

A second group of artists were selected to create custom artworks for interior spaces. These artists include: Ta-coumba Aiken, Alyssa Baguss, Lynn Bollman, Roger Boulay, Craig David, Stephen Geffre, Norman Holen, Stephanie Hunder, In Plain Sight Art (Brian Boldon and Amy Baur), Mary Lingen, Joonja Mornes, Kristen Opalinski, Tiit Raid, Amy Rice, Kimberlee Joy Roth, Alonso Sierralta, Tara Sweeney, Tina Tavera, Robert Tom, Rory Wakemup, Randy Walker.

The final result of this ambitious project is a dynamic and welcoming space with a spirit of beauty and openness. The Augsburg University Hagfors Center is a brilliant example of how the incorporation of art can address complex design challenges, bring a space to life and invite engagement and connection.

“The artworks installed in the building through the generous effort and gifts made to the Art and Identity initiative will enhance our students’ experience, affirm our commitment to interdisciplinary education, and express our identity as a Lutheran Christian institution throughout the spaces inside and surrounding the Center,” stated Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow at the January grand opening of the Hagfors Center.

Visit the Augsburg University website to see photos and learn more about the project. Even better, visit the Center in person, it is free and open to the public.