✱ Beyond Architecture

May 4, 2010 // HMC Architects, Ontario

Designers: Robert Mosakowski // Evan Troxel

Architectural design isn’t always about buildings. Sometimes, it goes beyond.

After a recent meeting with Loma Linda University Medical Center, we were tasked with creating a branded environment for a fundraising event. They have an amazing physical rehabilitation department which is moving into a new building that just finished construction. They were going to give tours of the facility at their grand opening ceremony. Loma Linda also wanted to use the event as a fundraising opportunity to build-out the last stop on the tour which is going to be used as the next step after rehabilitation - practice for the real world.

PossAbilities Square is the name of this program, of which there are only four others like it in the nation. Once a person has been through a serious injury or amputation and fitted with prosthetics, they must go through a rigorous rehabilitation to get them integrated back into society and just living life as normally as they can. While traditional rehabilitation gets their physical and mental strength and balance back, it does not put the person in the position to be able to navigate real world scenarios with assurance.

Most patients come out of rehab not wanting to go out in public because they feel like they are on a stage. They feel like they are doing normal things that everyone takes for granted as if they have never done them before, only this time with an audience watching their every move. Imagine trying to reach a can of food on the top shelf in the grocery store while sitting in a wheel chair. Or using an ATM. Or trying to go up an escalator with prosthetic legs. You get the idea.

PossAbilities square bridges the gap between traditional physical therapy and the real world by putting patients in real-world scenarios before they get out into public. Places to practice. Situations and obstacles like ramps, stairs, cars, busses, ATM’s, grocery aisles, etc. would be installed into the space where patients could practice before going out and getting on the world’s stage.

At the end of the tour of the new building, visitors gathered in the room that will one day become PossAbilities Square. Right now, it’s an unfinished concrete floor with only drywall on the walls. They wanted to give people a vision of what the space could be like if they chose to participate. Loma Linda was looking for partners to donate and help build the scenarios needed to effectively bridge the gap and expand their current services to their patients.

We brainstormed several ideas and decided to create a video that would be projected onto a wall as a moving billboard that would run throughout the duration of the tour. Loma Linda already had a great video (link) that is very touching and tells the stories of a few people who have been through their rehabilitation program. We did not want to remake that video - it had already been done very well and was really compelling. We had to change the direction quickly so that we had something new and complimentary to their existing material.

What they had was a great video that told the story of what PossAbilities already does. What they needed was a piece that told the story of what PossAbilities Square could add to the equation.

We had seen a few images made by a local photographer for Loma Linda that were amazing. They captured the essence of what is possible with the human spirit and Loma Linda’s dedication, expertise and technology. We decided that we could take those photos and create billboards that divided the room as if it were a gallery of what could be accomplished right there, in that space.


Final board size was 4’ wide by 7’ tall. They gave a full-scale, life-size impact to the viewers. Beyond the boards, we also decided to create a video that acted as a large billboard with movement by having a series of shots that told the story by connecting with the viewer at a deeper level. The video was projected onto a wall from floor to ceiling and seamlessly looped throughout the duration of the tour and reception.

With some clever copywriting, larger-than-life billboards, and incredible images we were able to create a branded environment that was a successful exclamation point to top off the incredible event.

Moving from impossible...

to I’m possible

Practice makes possible.

PossAbilities Square

Click here for the Image Gallery, which includes photos from the event and more imagery from the project.

All images ©2010 HMC Architects