Palo Alto, CA

Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center, Field Guide


Displayed outside the Veteran’s Administration Polytrauma & Blind Rehabilitation Center, Field Guide initially appears to be an abstract latticework. As they approach, visitors can see or feel that this form comprises twenty-two images of indigenous Northern California species complemented by dozens of three-dimensional golden birds. The same graphics are replicated inside on a copper-colored cylinder suspended in the atrium. SGH consulted on the structural and seismic performance of both sculptures.

SGH collaborated with Helmick Sculpture to design the intricate waterjet-cut steel sculptures. Highlights of our work included the following:

  • Performed finite element analyses using Rhino and Millipede with in-house scripts to rapidly predict material stresses in the steel, based on iterative design changes
  • Designed the structures to meet seismic demands, working within the sculpture’s artistic intent and dimensional requirements
  • Used a rapid computational analysis process, allowing the artist to continue his design process without being delayed
  • Designed the exposed architectural concrete foundation for the exterior display, including hidden base connections
  • Used a dynamic design process to evaluate the suspended cylinder and help the artist minimize and optimize the hanger locations
  • Developed details to connect the cylinder’s wire hangers to the atrium’s ceiling structure

Project Summary



Completion Date
New Construction
Advanced Analysis
Culture & Entertainment | Health Care & Life Sciences
Helmick Sculpture
Specialized Capabilities
AI & Automation

Key team members

Paul Kassabian
Paul Kassabian