Antony Gormley Sculpture Fabrication & Installation

Submitted by Summit Metal Fabricators

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Client: Antony Gormley Studio

Location: Cambridge, MA, United States

Completion date: 2016

Artwork budget: $750,000

Project Team

Artist

Antony Gormley

Antony Gormley Studio

Architect

Pierre Jusselme

Antony Gormley Studio

Industry Resource

Tristan Simmonds

Simmonds Studio

Industry Resource

Ian Schmellick

Silman Associates

Industry Resource

William Garland

Summit Metal Fabricators

Industry Resource

Gary Walker

Downeast Welding Consultants & Inspections

Industry Resource

Jonathan Felts

Fenagh Engineering

Industry Resource

Summit Metal Fabricators

Overview

Summit Metal Fabricators (SMF) was selected by Antony Gormley Studios to fabricate and install his sculpture “CHORD” at a Cambridge, MA university. The 56 foot tall sculpture is comprised of 541 stainless steel spheres connected by 905 duplex stainless steel rods of various lengths and is installed in the 12 foot by 12 foot four-story stairwell of the mathematics building. To meet the artist's specifications, SMF developed special welding procedures and equipment to ensure that each rod connected to the exact center of each sphere at the precise angle. Additionally, each component was produced with a unique shape/finish.

Goals

The Antony Gormley sculpture was commissioned by the university to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the William Welles Bosworth-designed mathematics building. The sculpture was carefully integrated into the building's stairwell, providing an aesthetically pleasing form that is true to both the artist's design and the building's architecture. The sculpture also provides structural integrity and beauty, resulting in a structure that combines form, function, and beauty in a structurally sound design. "The degree to which Summit as a whole, both in planning and execution, achieved the highest standards of a demanding engineering protocol and the aesthetics necessary for the piece makes them one of the best partners that the Antony Gormley Studio has worked with." Antony Gormley, April 2016

Process

This project was global in nature and required great collaboration between Antony Gormley, who is located in London, and the Summit Metal Fabricators' project team located in the U.S. To bridge the distance, the majority of the daily communications between the UK and the USA teams was done via Skype and email. A great example of this collaborative process was in the forming of the stainless steel rods from round to square, a strict requirement of the artist's design. The Summit team worked closely with the steel provider, Penn Stainless Products, and Antony Gormley to get the desired shape. This required many tests, adjustments and retesting to achieve the artist's requirements, all done primarily via Skype and email. Another collaborative example was developing unique welding procedures to achieve the specific look of the connections between the spheres and the rods. The welds had to be very clean with lines sweeping up onto the spheres from the bars, creating the impression of a suction cup. To achieve this result, extensive inspections of all welds was conducted. The structural engineer, Ian Schmellick of Silman Associates, was instrumental in the inspection/testing of the welds.

Additional Information

Safety is a key component of any project undertaken by Summit Metal Fabricators. Two Certified Safety Professionals (CSP) were provided for this project both in the fabrication shop and at the mathematics building. To reduce fall hazard, a special hoist and pulley system was developed so that the 56 foot tall sculpture could be constructed from the ground up. Additionally, the stairwell was completely enclosed in protective sheeting, allowing students to use the staircase safely while the sculpture was installed.