Case Studies

Adjacent Possible

Project Team

University of Minnesota


Maria Artemis

The new Biomedical Discovery District, Cancer and Cardiovascular Research building is designed to foster innovation. The building and plaza is the physical place made ready for this ongoing activity of discovery. Adjacent Possible* is a poetic response to this invitation.

The sculptural work engages the architecture and landscape, mediating between the human experience of the plaza and the scale of the building.

Massive blocks of granite play against a soaring stainless steel web, growing according to its own internal logic, tracing and defining the space above the plaza, in an open-ended dance of curving linear pipe.

The new appears at the boundary where different conditions and perspectives meet. The creative, dynamic edge of biomedical research explores the interactions between biochemical, genetic and environmental systems. Adjacent Possible embodies this sense of fertile ideas in play.

Granite pavers and three large quarry artifacts, slightly altered, establish a sweeping field of movement through the plaza to the building. These suggest an energetic field of potential, existing just below our awareness, gradually appearing and taking form. The granite, cut from one of the oldest continental bedrocks known, provides an allusion to the geological fundament of all life and change on the planet.

* Theoretical Biologist, Stuart Kauffman, generously allowed me to use his term as a title for this work. In his book Investigations (Oxford University Press, Inc. 2000), he postulates that life and environment co-construct the biosphere by continually moving into what he calls the adjacent possible-the new that is most possible given current conditions.

Artist, photo and description credit to Maria Artemis

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