Deike Building West Entrance Stacked Stones, Penn State (2007-2009)
The main entrance of Deike Building, home of the Dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, was considered at the time to be the worst building entrance in the entire University system. The redesign was all about providing a fresh, open, and inviting plaza. Another must was to replace a crumbling specimen stone called a concretion, which was also in a symbolic state of decay.
A new feature was needed that would provide yet another lithic landmark for the College. I discovered that stacked stones (i.e. cairns, obos, inukshuks, etc.) were a common cultural phenomenon wherever people and loose stones coexist. After consulting with retired geology professor, Duff Gold, I found that the most compelling stones in Pennsylvania were round, crystalline glacial erratics found near Erie that had been rolled into round balls by glaciers and their meltwaters. At the quarry, I worked with a contractor to legitimately free-stack the stones without any supports before having them core-drilled and threaded onto 1” diameter rebar in the middle of the plaza. These “snowmen” also tell a story about glaciers and climate change. This relatively small installation required collaboration with the quarry, a geotechnical drilling company, a structural engineer, and a dedicated site contractor.