The piece, called "Open Pollen," is a low, open spiral made of layered flat wooden shingles that resembles a slice of honeycomb. The four students in Cindy Ludlam’s Advanced 3D design class aimed to echo both the natural surroundings and the native architecture of Waltham, Massachusetts, in their choice of building material, cedar siding tiles. Cedar siding is a common feature of Waltham homes, and the wood panels reflect the tree-studded campus. Cedar is also non-toxic, which will keep the sculpture from damaging the soil beneath it even after time and weather have worn it in.
"We were trying to blur the lines between what is handmade and what is prefab," Ludlam said. The students experimented with illustration, digital drawing and computer animation to design their work. They had to alter their original design when their model wouldn’t stand up by itself. Now the sculpture stands (successfully) at nine feet in diameter and eighteen inches high, by the front entrance to the school.
Check out a slideshow of the students' design and building process by clicking in the upper right corner of this page.
Students are Sun Jung Jung, Yoon Soo Kim, Colin Yip and Dan Benson.
Drew Himmelstein is a writer living in San Francisco who reports frequently about religion. To learn about modern design in Unitarian Universalist churches for the November 2009 issue, she spoke to clergy, architects, and historians about the challenges and opportunities involved in creating sacred spaces. She also concluded that Unitarians might just be the nicest flock around.