Antony Gormley Sculpture
Region New England
Owner Antony Gormley Studio
Lead Design Firm Antony Gormley Studio
General Contractor Summit Metal Fabricators
Engineers Simmonds Studio (design) and Silman (structural)
Consultants Penn Stainless Products Inc. and Downeast Welding Consultants and Inspections
The Antony Gormley sculpture celebrating the 100th anniversary of the William Welles Bosworth-designed MIT mathematics building filled one “Best of the Best” judge with “wonder.” Saying art should make people think, the judge noted, “I can’t stop thinking about this sculpture!”
Rising four stories from stairwell floor to skylight, the 56-ft-tall structure includes 1,700 lb of polished stainless steel and 33 polyhedrons welded together. Each weld required engineering calculations to maintain the designed shape while the sculpture stood vertically.
Summit Metal Fabricators made the British artist’s sculpture, titled “Chord,” in just one month, using specialized jigging and computer-numerical-control manufactured templates to assemble six separate sections horizontally, rather than vertically. Before being hoisted into position, a lift-and-frame system allowed the sections to be assembled on the stairwell’s ground floor. During construction, the 12-ft by 12-ft stairwell was enclosed in reinforced poly, keeping the worksite and surrounding staircases separated and safe.
Known for his cellular polyhedral sculptures that resemble abstract and geometric forms found in nature, Gormley was impressed with how well Summit could “grapple” with methods and materials it had never used.