Piecing Together The Past: Relocating the Arms of Christ Mural
What do you do when the past is obscured by the present?
The Walter P Moore team had to answer just that when assessing the delicate task of relocating the Extending Arms of Christ mosaic mural positioned on the front of the Houston Methodist Hospital building complex. The mural, constructed in Florence, Italy in 1963, preceded the addition of a porte cochere and the growth of trees planted in front of the building over the span of 40+ years. Walter P Moore worked together with an art preservationist to come up with the best plan to retain the mural’s artistic and structural integrity. Ultimately, the mural was strategically dissected and remounted inside the lobby of the hospital using innovative gravity connections in order to minimize damage to the mural.
During the relocation process, Walter P Moore provided load check services for rigging support during the cutting and removal of the mural from the exterior wall. The team took a comprehensive approach to designing a new framing system for relocation of the mural. To preserve the pieces and decrease the ocurrence of damage to the tiles, the framing system was designed to carry the weight of the mural panels in a similar way to the original design. All gravity loads were carried through mechanical fasteners instead of mural material or adhesives. Another interesting approach was to place the relocated mosaic in tension to avoid cracking. Each panel is able to be independently positioned for onsite alignment during installation. Finally, Walter P Moore provided professional recommendations regarding material selection, which resulted in mural panels that are able to survive an extended power outage when significant temperature and humidity changes occur.
“Relocating Arms of Christ Mural is an excellent example of utilizing an interdisciplinary approach to a challenging project. In collaboration with the art conservator, architect, and contractor, Walter P Moore provided a design that not only minimized damage to this unique art piece, but made re-installation of the mural easier than anyone could expect!” — Kasra Ghahremani / Project Engineer, Walter P Moore
Unique projects like these showcase innovative ways to preserve the past, to be resourceful, and to effectively collaborate with peers.