The Original Steel Teaching Sculpture - Gainesville, FL
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
N 29° 38.893 W 082° 20.960
17R E 369397 N 3280566
Quick Description: "The Original Steel Teaching Sculpture" is located at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, USA. It was designed by Duane Ellifritt, Ph.D., P.E, a professor at the University of Florida.
Location: Florida, United States
Date Posted: 7/30/2011 5:27:21 PM
Waymark Code: WMC65P
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
Views: 2

Long Description:
The following is an excerpt from an article written about the sculpture by Dr. Duane Ellifritt:

"In the spring of 1985, I had an epiphany: I would create a sculpture for the campus that would do double duty as a work of art and serve as a teaching tool. It would feature all kinds of steel members and the most common kinds of connections. That would solve all the problems inherent in my other solutions. It would be right outside the Civil Engineering building (no transportation involved) and students could examine it at their own convenience. Since it would be rooted to one site, there would be no storage problem. It was a perfect solution! But how could I sell such an idea to the University administration? The Chairman of Civil Engineering and the Dean of the Engineering College both gave it their blessing, but I also had to convince the University Facilities Planning Committee.

"I spent several months designing what I believed to be an optimum arrangement of pieces and connections, all radiating outward from a central free-standing column. I then made four elevation views of the structure, and a color isometric rendering that would mean something to a Committee of non-engineering types. I included a light sketch of the Civil Engineering building in the background, showing my idea of where the sculpture could be located in a prominent spot.

"After I made my presentation to the Committee, there were a lot of questions, some about whether this could be considered "art" or not, but mostly about safety and the University’s liability. After much discussion, the Assembly agreed to allow me to erect the sculpture, but in an alternate location on the south side of Weil Hall behind an electrical substation, virtually hidden from public view. I wasn’t happy, but at least I had approval to build it.

"I had developed, over my years in industry, some contacts with steel fabricators, so I approached one of them, Steel Fabricators, Inc. in Ft. Lauderdale, about making my sculpture. They agreed, but needed some fabrication drawings which I did not have. I had only my conceptual drawings of how I had envisioned the finished product would look. In order to fabricate, a separate drawing is required for each piece, showing where holes are to be punched, tabs to be welded, angles to be attached, etc. Fortunately, an engineering firm who was on our Board of Visitors, Kun-Young Chui and Associates from Valdosta, Georgia agreed to make the shop drawings for me.

"The next hurdle was the foundation. Building a foundation meant digging a hole, but one just doesn’t go out and start digging on a University campus! I had to apply for a "dig permit" from the Building and Grounds department and have the underground utilities located. Then I could set some stakes and get students to help with the digging, placing reinforcing, and pouring concrete.

"The fabrication of the sculpture was completed in October. Steel Fab loaded it onto a flat-bed trailer and transported it to the campus, where they engaged a mobile crane to lift the piece from their trailer and set it on the anchor bolts. I had set the bolts myself, so was a little tense during this operation, but the base plate slipped over the bolts quite easily.

"Shortly after the installation, I gave a brief discussion of my creation at a national steel meeting and several professors approached me and asked if I was willing to share the plans with them. I was frankly flattered to be asked and made them available to anyone who wanted them. A few universities, like the U. of Toronto and the U. of Houston built a copy and sent me pictures.

"A few years later, the American Institute of Steel Construction heard of this and thought it was a great teaching tool and would be a good device for establishing relations between engineering schools and steel fabricators. I was approached by Fromy Rosenberg, AISC’s Director of Education, about their taking over the plans and promoting it as a teaching tool. I gave permission to use my idea and AISC took the plans, scaled the structure down to around eight feet high (my sculpture was 14 feet high), changed some of the connections, and began a vigorous campaign to get more of them built on college campuses.

"This effort has been hugely successful, and as of this date (early 2010) there are 135 of these sculptures on campuses within the United States, with an additional 18 in Canada, 5 in Mexico and one in India."

-- Source

Title: The Original Steel Teaching Sculpture

Artist: Duane Ellifritt

Media (materials) used: Steel

Location (specific park, transit center, library, etc.): University of Florida

Date of creation or placement: 1986

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