The hospital model, like most other forms of institutional architecture, is constantly being revised and remodeled. Bridgepoint Hospital is an exemplar of this with its state-of-the-art facilities and its commitment to making a hospital more than just a building with beds and medical equipment, but a community of wellness. Its achievements in this realm, including integration of public space through its series of courtyards and green spaces, demonstrate the reimagining of the hospital space.
Although Bridgepoint is a new facility altogether, many other health care facilities around the city including St. Michael's Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute and CAMH, have updated their existing facilities in attempts to better serve their patients. What makes Bridgepoint unique among this group is its integration of art in the healing process, both as a wellness tool and as part of an effort to build community among patients and the broader Riverdale community.
One of the most celebrated examples of public art at Bridgepoint is its Max Tanenbaum Sculpture Garden located in the passage from the cafeteria to Ambulatory care and the Riverdale Park. The garden on the building's west side features 25 brightly coloured sculptures, arranged in planters, of humanoid figures in a variety of poses. The figures' broad range of actions, from snowboarding to dancing, speak to the versatility, strength and beauty of the human form. The figures' poses complemented by the vitality of the colourful metal in which they were cast serve a dual purpose. They function as a reminder and encouragement to the Bridgepoint patients, typically those suffering from chronic diseases, that they can get better (and that their bodies are a gift ). They also serve to humanize the hospital setting for the patients and nearby residents, making it a community space worthy of exploring for leisure and enjoyment, rather than strictly for receiving medical attention.
The sculptures were created by Canadian artist and inventor William Lishman, settled in Blackstock, Onatrio. The garden was created through a generous donation from the Solomon and Spiro Foundation in memory of Canadian businessman Max Tanenbuam who passed away in 1983. Lishman is no stranger to the hospital setting having completed similar humanoid sculpture work for the Princess Maragaret Cancer Centre as well as its Max Tanenbaum Healing Garden.
The hospital also features another public artwork—a labyrinth—this one with a more clearly defined healthcare benefits for its patients. The labyrinth, located on the hospital's north side, has been incorporated into a variety of healthcare programs at the hospital. The five-lane labyrinth allows for multiple person use and offers wide lanes that accommodate patients using wheelchairs.
At Bridgepoint, the labyrinth plays host to drum circles, among other activities for patients, as well as providing a space for relaxation and meditation. Various scientific journals have attested to the healing properties of labyrinths which provide patients with an opportunity to get exercise in nature, and which offer a clearly non-medical space to relax with others while acting generally as a stress-relieving activity.
The incorporation of art in the health care setting is not a new endeavour, but it is one that major hospitals across Toronto have begun to earnestly integrate into their healing processes and patient living. Baycrest Hospital—which has gone as far as to create a Culture, Arts and Innovation department to provide music and art therapy as well as a program to adorn its halls with meaningful and thought-provoking art—is a testament to this. Bridgepoint however, extends its reach by making these works of art visible to the broader community. This invites the creation of a community that allows patients to feel they're at a home-away-from-home, and gives them the opportunity to form bonds with nature, other patients, and the broader Riverdale community, strengthening their support system and resolve to get well.