College solicits art design proposals for Sampson Hoffland's Carlson Atrium

June 17, 2010

Luther College invites professionals with experience in site-specific design to submit conceptual design proposals for artwork that transforms Carlson Atrium of Sampson Hoffland Laboratories at Luther College.

Sampson Hoffland Laboratories building is a newly constructed state-of-the-art science facility at Luther College, housing the biology and chemistry departments and providing both teaching and research laboratories for undergraduate education. The two-story Carlson Atrium serves as a central gathering area and is the focal point of the facility both from the building entrance and from the street.

Luther College seeks a piece (or pieces) of permanent artwork for the east walls of Carlson Atrium that establishes a significant focal point for the space.

Sampson Hoffland Laboratories is positioned as the first building passed when entering campus and serves as a focal point for students and visitors upon arrival. The prominence of the facility is established by the two-story Carlson Atrium, marked by a curvilinear glass front wall that greets motorists and pedestrians as they enter or leave the college, along with students and guests as they enter the facility.

This pattern is matched on the exterior by multilevel, curvilinear limestone retaining walls that form planting beds and walkways while also defining the border for Wilkins Plaza, which serves as a common gathering area for students as well as a site for college-hosted events.

The curvilinear feature and use of limestone is derived from the Decorah topography that is defined by the river valley nature and outcroppings of limestone throughout the area. The building is primarily faced with brick, except for the glass front side which contains a strong metallic theme.

The interior of the facility is finished in cool blue and gray palettes on finished sheet rock, tile and carpet, along with black accents and a prominent aluminum theme. Doors and cabinetry in the facility are blond maple. The spaces to be transformed in the atrium space are the large east walls, which are opposite the windows and student gathering area.

This two-story wall is transected by the upper level balcony/walkway, which protrudes in a curvilinear form to mimic that of the exterior glass wall and exterior limestone walls. The lower level wall (37 feet wide by 10 feet high) is bordered by a gray tile walkway that opens into the two-story carpeted atrium and gathering area. The upper level wall (37 feet wide by 10 feet high) is immediately adjacent to a smaller, more intimate, carpeted gathering area on the balcony.

The upper level balcony is lined by an opaque glass railing that prevents the space from being seen from the first floor atrium space. Visual access to the upper level is further restricted by the reflective nature of the atrium’s glass front, essentially limiting visibility to sundown/lighted conditions. This visual segregation of the two levels affords the potential of each wall having a unique theme composed of differing media, although nighttime visibility may require some level of continuity of media and/or coloration between levels.

Artwork that incorporates the scientific focus of the building, either from a broader scientific approach or more specific to the content of the building (biology and chemistry) is encouraged, although the committee will review submissions of other types (e.g., landscapes, figurative, abstract).

For the upper level wall, the chemistry department, which is housed on that level, envisions incorporation of features related to the periodic table of the elements into the artwork, although the committee will accept submissions that integrate other aspects of the sciences. Artwork should be wall-mounted and may embrace any media, including paintings, murals, ceramic, metals, kinetic elements, stone, sculpture, water and plants. It should be noted that the walls are composed of sheetrock held by metal studs, and therefore, have limited load capacity. Thus, any artwork of significant weight load should be designed with appropriate weight-bearing strategies or should convey load bearing needs in the proposal.


Artists may submit proposals for one or both atrium level walls. Selection of the final proposal(s) will be based on submitted plans, including renderings/concepts and itemized budget, along with documentation of prior projects and/or evidence that the proposal can be completed as envisioned within the construction timeline. Proposals must include the following components:

1. A concept design or idea in both visual and narrative form. Visuals may include sketches. Narratives should convey the intent of the proposal and its relationship to Luther College.

2. Images (either slides or jpgs on CD-R) and documentation of previous related work.

3. A current résumé or other documentation establishing professional qualifications for projects of this type, and three relevant references. Luther College will interview finalists at his/her own expense.

4. A budget itemizing costs related to the project, including design, production and installation of all related artwork.

5. A self-addressed, stamped envelope for any materials that are to be returned.

Project calendar

Proposals are due no later than September 1. Proposals will be reviewed by the committee and a decision made by October 1 after which time artists will be notified. The project completion deadline is September 1, 2011.

Assumptions and Agreements

Luther College has designated $15,000 to cover total costs of both projects. At the conclusion of the process, all materials developed by the artist/designer will become the exclusive property of Luther College. In addition, any and all work sheets and working documentation will also become the property of Luther College.

Each finalist will provide Luther College with a certificate of insurance indicating liability and worker’s compensation coverage.

Send completed proposals to:

Marcia Bullerman
Luther College
700 College Drive
Decorah, IA 52101

Questions? Contact Scott Carlson, [email protected], (563) 387-1552; or David Kamm [email protected], (563) 387-1665.

Additional information about Luther College, including images of the campus, can be viewed on the Luther website ( Images of Sampson Hoffland Laboratories and the atrium space may be viewed at (see first page) and Individuals developing proposals are also invited and encouraged to visit Luther College to view the atrium space firsthand.


Sampson Hoffland Laboratories