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Extraordinary Science II Obelisk to be Installed May 1

"Secondhand Geology," a sculpture made of blocks of crushed stainless steel, will be installed May 1 on the grounds of Central Washington University's new Science II building. It will be dedicated at a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 4.

The 20-foot, 5,000-pound column, which will be anchored to a four-foot concrete base, is the work of the Ball-Nogues studio in Los Angeles. An ArtsWA (www.arts.wa.gov) project, the artwork was funded through the Art in Public Places program which allocates a percentage of the building's construction costs for art to be installed on the site of a publicly funded structure. Benson Shaw's work, "Resources," at Dean Hall, is an ArtsWA project.

"The ArtsWA group have a roster of artists to be considered for public art projects," said Joanne Hillemann, architect, LEED AP, and manager, CWU Facilities Planning and Construction. "An ArtsWA manager met with the CWU Art Committee to initiate the process for commissioning the piece."

"The Art Selection Committee for Science Phase II had a challenging task of choosing an artist whose style would capture the essence of physics, geology, and science education [departments housed in Science II], but also succeed with the many constraints on location," said committee member Andy Piacsek, chair and professor of physics. "Because the interior of the building already had so many strong design elements, including permanent exhibits, the committee expected that the art would likely be outside. Ball and Nogues made a strong impression by explaining how the process by which a sculpture is created is just as important as the final form.

"They didn’t disappoint: the Science II sculpture is a simple pylon, but fabricated in a way that simulates and evokes the stratigraphy and metamorphic processes seen in the earth’s crust. I’m very pleased with it."

"Secondhand Geology" was created using powerful industrial processes to compact the stainless steel in to blocks which are stacked in a column.

"The crumpled steel is a manifestation of the massive forces required to compact it," Ball-Nogues related in its artist's statement. "It will remind viewers of the geological processes at work on rock formations near Ellensburg. The shape of the column will suggest a stone obelisk or a colossal geological core sample."

The sculpture will take about three days to be shipped from Los Angeles. Once the sculpture arrives, CWU will off-load it by forklift and place it on the ground adjacent to the concrete pedestal. A crane and a man-lift will be used to install the sculpture, and this will be coordinated by Ball-Nogues Studio and with CWU Facilities.

Sculptor Gaston Nogues will travel from Los Angeles to assemble the sculpture and attend its dedication.

The people involved in the Science II Art selection process included: Gregg Schlanger, chair, Art Department; Lola Gallagher, associate director of marketing and communication, Student Union; Joanne Hillemann; Doug Ryder, planning officer, Facilities Management; Andy Piacsek; Nick Zentner, professor, Geology Department; Tim Sorey, professor, Chemistry Department; Cindy Krieble, professor emeritus, Art Department; John Michel, professor, Music Department; Brian Kooser, CWU student representative; and Becky Barnhart and Robert Wiese from Integrus Architecture.

According to their website, Ball-Nogues Studio is an integrated design and fabrication practice operating in a territory between architecture, art and industrial design, led by Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues. Ball and Nogues originally trained as architects, and worked together for renowned architect Frank Gehry, before teaming up to establish Ball-Nogues Studio. "Their work is informed by the exploration of craft. Essential to each project is the "design" of the production process itself, with the aim of creating environments that enhance sensation, generate spectacle and invite physical engagement."

The Art in Public Places (AIPP) program facilitates the acquisition, placement, and stewardship of artwork in state-funded building projects throughout Washington. The Washington State Legislature established the AIPP program in 1974 to acquire artwork for K-12 public schools, colleges, universities, and state agencies, funded by ½ of 1 percent of the state’s portion of construction costs.

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518, valeriec@cwu.edu
April 26, 2017

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