BeltLine sculpture makes its way to Tech

Photo courtesy of Razan Altirafi

The upcoming installation of a new sculpture on campus will mark the close of a nearly two-year project. The piece, a towering structure of thick metal pipes and spindly wires, will be moving from its original home on the Atlanta BeltLine.

“The Veil,” created by members of the Women in Architecture student organization, has been in the works since the spring of 2017. The process began when the young women in the group organized themselves to create and take an independent study class, which gave them the freedom to work on projects that they felt would augment their education.

One of these projects was designing a submission for the Art on the BeltLine program, which selects artistic endeavors of many media for temporary exhibition on the popular 22-mile path that surrounds Atlanta. The ten young women in the class created a sculptural structure that they believe symbolizes the mission statement of Women in Architecture: “Inspire, Empower, Celebrate.”

“The cables themselves are this intertwining canopy — that’s the veil,” said Emily Wirt, third year ARCH grad student and president of Women in Architecture.

“The idea that these cables are this continuous spectrum, wrapping around and holding up this structure, so that it almost feels like it’s floating above the ground [creates] this veil, with the delicacy yet the weight of the aluminum. Ultimately, it’s this supportive veil type community,” she said.

The jury for Art on the BeltLine chose “The Veil” as one of the featured projects, and the young women spent several months creating architectural sketches and construction documents.

Next was the actual fabrication of the structure, which is entirely aluminum. This work was done in the College of Design’s Digital Fabrication Lab. Right next door is an office of the Georgia Tech Research Institute, representatives from which helped the team cut the metal with water jets and weld the correct pieces into place.

Installation was a big job, completed with the help of some heavy machinery and lots of help from supporters of the project. Pedestrians, runners and cyclists on the BeltLine could see it up from December of 2017 to June of 2018.

The group is proud that the project is Tech-supported from the beginning to the end. Women in Architecture submitted and received funding for a bill to the Student Government Association for $25,000 for use during the entire length of the project, which will be used all the way through the final installation. They were mentored by Tech professors, helped with fabrication by GTRI, and supported every step of the way by volunteers from Women in Architecture and the greater campus community.

After “The Veil” finished its stint on the BeltLine, Wirt and her fellow designers began to look for a new home for their piece. They found one — in about two weeks, the sculpture will be installed in the grass between the Love Manufacturing Building and the MRDC.

The sculpture will look slightly different than the original version. The cables will be thinned to emphasize the delicacy of the piece and their attachments to the pipes will be streamlined and fine-tuned. Soon, passers-by will be reminded of the structure that supports and covers them.