The Big Build

May 2021, the components of The Spiral Table sculpture had been cut to size and molded to shape specifications set by the designer, Roger Berry. Before any of the design team had physically seen these parts, with their fingers crossed, they were delivered to the Tennessee Tech campus.

To the relief of many, the materials lived up to expectations. Together, designers and faculty spent hours building the sculpture from these component parts on the Tech campus. 2D flat-packed pieces became 3D atomic representations.

88 individual “atoms” were built, representing each element of the Periodic Table except for the lanthanides and actinides. Each piece is created around a dichroic glass centre around which electron shells are expressed in the stainless steel rings and electrons as the smaller ovals.

Each atom has a colored dichroic glass nucleus which reflects the opposite color to which it transmits.The colors transmitted through the dichroic glass were carefully selected to align with the accepted shades for each element.

With the assistance of scaffolding and hydraulic lifts, these atoms were hung from a stainless steel vertebrae, itself suspended from the ceiling of the chemistry atria in the Life Sciences Building.

Intentionally orded from the lightest element, hydrogen, to the heaviest, oganesson, the scultpure takes on a spiral shape. This arrangement of pieces took the on-campus team countless hours of time to first construct and then order. In addition, Roger Berry and his team of artists spent months designing the sculpture, planning resources, and sourcing the materials.

Remarkably, in less than a week, never before seen flat-packed pieces of metal and circles of colored dichroic glass were transformed into a majestic, three dimensional masterpiece, now suspended in the chemistry atrium.

The Spiral Table sculpture represents a true collaboration between artists and faculty: both were integral to each and every step of the process, from initial conceptualization to eventual realization.