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eNews Archive > Fall 2019
Sky Factory Newsletter - Fall 2019
Making the Grade: 2017 Planetree Scholars

Sky Factory in partnership with Armstrong Ceilings has launched its first biophilic cloud system: the INFINITY SkyCeiling, a suspended, image-based ceiling canopy designed for high ceilings and open plenum spaces . . .

  TAMC Dialysis Center: Interview with Richard Borrelli

The revived Level II-E Special Care Nursery in the NewLife Maternity Center at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, located in Geneva, Illinois, was designed by Steve Blye, Creative Director and . . .

  Mobile Medical Imaging Reaches for the Sky

Aperture, the latest generation in Sky Factory’s line of illusory skies, uniquely modifies our perception of customary planar relationships, boosting the spatial plausibility of interior skies to a new heightened level of illusion . . .

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INFINITY: A New Spatial illusion for Exposed Ceilings

Sky Factory in partnership with Armstrong Ceilings has launched its first biophilic cloud system: the INFINITY SkyCeiling™, a suspended, image-based ceiling canopy designed for high ceilings and open plenum spaces.

The INFINITY SkyCeiling generates a visceral experience of vertical space when viewed directly underneath its circumference. When viewed from any other vantage point, INFINITY transforms into a luminous elliptical oculus. INFINITY biophilic clouds imbue contemporary interiors with calibrated daylight-quality light (correlated color temperature 6500K) that is filtered through the company’s research-verified, Open Sky Compositions™.

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Meeting space featuring 12'9" and 9' INFINITY SkyCeilings.

Sky Factory’s Open Sky Compositions are the only sky images deliberately designed to trigger a multisensory effect on the observer. Their visual and spatial stimuli generates a visceral illusion of perceived open space and this experience deepens the automatic ‘Relaxation Response’ that we generate when in close proximity to a natural exterior.

Peer reviewed, published ƒMRI research on the company’s sky imagery has shown that its photographic Open Sky Compositions uniquely engage areas of the brain involved in spatial cognition and depth perception.

This pioneering research in neuroarchitecture (the neural correlates of nature stimuli) has earned multiple international awards and has been presented at prestigious forums, including at the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA) and the European Healthcare Design Conference.

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Office featuring 9' INFINITY SkyCeilings.

“The INFINITY SkyCeiling is our first product developed in partnership with Armstrong Ceilings,” says Skye Witherspoon, CEO. “Most contemporary interiors take advantage of acoustic ceiling clouds to absorb ambient noise. However, an equally essential attribute that enables occupants to recharge their mental faculties and relax is a visual access to nature.

“At the same time, the majority of commercial spaces with exposed ceilings feature windows to urban landscapes, not to natural environments. And we know from both research and experience that only the latter, natural environments, lead to cognitive restoration and emotional balance,” adds Skye.

The INFINITY SkyCeiling alters this equation by allowing designers, facility managers, and wellness officers to incorporate a credible, multisensory illusion of open sky within their environment at any point, whether it is part of a major remodeling or as a retrofit installation.

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Delnor Special Care Nursery Takes Care of Newborns,
Moms, and Nurses

The revived Level II-E Special Care Nursery in the NewLife Maternity Center at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, located in Geneva, Illinois, was designed by Steve Blye, Creative Director and Associate Director of Healthcare at LEGAT Architects.

The central caregiver station gives nurse clinicians a 360-degree view of the seven spacial care bays around the perimeter. Aware that nurse stations are often located deep inside the perimeter of hospitals, Steve designed a 10’ X 20’ elliptical Luminous SkyCeiling to generate a therapeutic illusion of nature.

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NewLife Maternity Center features a custom 10’ x 20’ elliptical Luminous SkyCeiling.

Powered by calibrated daylight-quality LEDs, a high resolution Open Sky Composition frames the nurse station, allowing the staff to receive the healing benefits of perceived open space, the visceral sense of relief experienced when closer to a natural exterior.

The new nursery offers parents and siblings a comfortable place to spend time with premature infants and term infants with medical complications. The 3,100-square-foot makeover brings the spaces up to code, improves workflow, and creates a welcoming ambiance with a soothing color palette and soft lighting.

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The maternity center features several 2’ x 2’ Luminous SkyCeilings placed above the patient bays.

This project is part of a five-phase, 16,800-square-foot complete renovation of Delnor Hospital’s NewLife Maternity Center, including labor and delivery rooms, post-partum recovery rooms, well baby and special care nurseries, operating rooms, staff support lounges and locker rooms, plus waiting and support spaces. During renovations, temporary spaces were built and demolished to keep the department operational throughout construction.

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APERTURE: Deepen the Open Sky Illusion

Aperture, the latest generation in Sky Factory’s line of illusory skies, uniquely modifies our perception of customary planar relationships, boosting the spatial plausibility of interior skies to a new heightened level of illusion.

Aperture generates a palpable biophilic illusion by introducing three innovations. First, the grid between image panels vanishes. Second, Aperture introduces a vacant interstice between the frame trim and the image panel (“SkyTile”). And third, the design features a reflective trim side wall within the skylight’s mechanical periphery.

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The image panel appears to hover over the perimeter frame in a way that enhances the open sky illusion.

“Together, these structural modifications yield an illusory opening that leads the observer’s ingrained habits of perception to one inescapable conclusion—a perception of open sky whose boundaries remain invisible,” says Skye Witherspoon, Sky Factory’s CEO. “For the first time, we have an illusion that sustains an experience of sky regardless of the angle of view,” Skye adds.

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Luminous SkyCeilings are now featured in medical imaging vehicles.

Gridless Illusion
Aperture’s perimeter structure forgoes the familiar support grid, usually positioned between SkyTiles (image panels), in favor of an unobstructed view of the entire circular or elliptical opening. Aperture is available in three circular (3-foot, 4-foot, and 5-foot diameter) and
two elliptical (4’ X 6’, 5’ X 8’) sizes.

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“The absence of a grid creates ambiguity for the mind as to whether or not a surface (the SkyTile) actually exists, thereby supporting the perception of deep space,” says Bill Witherspoon, Sky Factory’s founder and Creative Director.

The Interstice
Aperture’s innovative design separates the perimeter frame from the non-reflective image panel (“SkyTile”) surface, creating a vacant interstice. (The interstice is the empty space between the actual layers.)

When the sky image (Open Sky Composition™) is viewed from any off-center perspective, the interstice appears as a crescent shaped gap on the far side of the perimeter trim.

However, when viewed standing directly underneath, Aperture’s vacant interstice—subtly visible by virtue of our binocular vision, confounds the viewer’s ability to recognize and locate a precise distance to the non-reflective SkyTile surface. As a result, the sensory information stacks the contextual cues in favor of an alternate—and now more plausible—perception of deep open sky.

In both cases, this spatial ambiguity leads the mind’s perceptual calculus to a credible illusion that, along with the image’s recessive blue hue and other cues, signals an expanse of sky, unbounded in all directions.

Learn more about Aperture

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