By Eric Lundin
If it’s true that life imitates art, it wouldn’t be surprising to find sculptures on university cam- puses inspired by mathematics, chemistry, or
biology. Although such structures tend to be complex in their designs and therefore challenging to
build, they usually are worth the effort, admirable
and more than a little awe-inspiring when finished.
When the staff of Summit Metal Fabricators,
Plaistow, N.H., received a call from the office of internationally acclaimed sculptor Antony Gormley,
they were ready. Gormley’s office needed a contractor with a wealth of experience in structural projects
and ornamental metals, and Summit turned out to
be an ideal fabricator for this sculpture.
A Vast Molecular Structure
The project, developed for a private university on
the East Coast, is a vast sculpture that resembles the
molecular structure of a chemical chain.
Consisting of 541 nodes, or spheres, and 905 connecting rods, “CHORD” occupies a stairwell, filling
an area that measures 12 by 12 by 56 feet high.
“Antony wanted an industrial-looking finish on
the bars, and a mirror polish, specifically a #8 finish,
on the nodes,” said Chief Estimator Kris Kraft. This
led the Summit team to choose SAE 316 stainless
steel for the nodes and 2205 duplex stainless steel
in a variety of lengths and diameters for the connecting rods.
Modeling the structure was the first big step. “We
used building information modeling, or BIM, which
is software for 3-D modeling for construction projects,” said Kraft. “We used it to locate each of the
So far, so good, but this was just a model. Time-consuming, but not necessarily difficult. Turning
this 3-D rendering into a physical entity was the
challenge. How would they build the fixturing and