Located on the busy campus of Stanford University, The Windhover Contemplative Center serves as a spiritual refuge from the intense pressures of the highly competitive institution. The Center uses a series of meditative paintings by Nathan Oliveira, internationally acclaimed artist and former Stanford professor, as inspiration for quiet reflection and self-renewal. The poetic minimal architecture with strategically placed skylights and glass walls unifies the indoor/outdoor experience into distinctly serene “views” of the art. The lighting is carefully integrated to bring focus to the art, while minimizing view of equipment, balancing conservation needs, and providing functionality for events and seminars.
The Windhover series paintings are prominently displayed on rammed earth and plaster walls. Low level general ambient light throughout the space establishes a meditative atmosphere. A narrow skylight above each painting runs the length of the wall allowing daylight to graze down the wall onto the paintings. The daylight, however, is not the primary light source illuminating the art but more of an environmental feature. It is the hidden accent lights subtly front lighting each painting that makes the paintings focal points in the space.
Situated next to an endangered salamander refuge in a grove of oak trees, the project site contributes to the artist’s vision that his paintings be shown in relation to nature. As viewed from the exterior and interior, the narrow linear downlights integrated in the wood slat ceiling seem to disappear when not on, but when activated provide necessary lighting without detracting from the transcendently serene impact of the illuminated paintings.