Architects and sculptors are continuously coming up with new ideas to use steel pipes and tubes in their designs and work. Steel is a popular artistic medium because it is impactful to the viewer, seeing such a hard material twisted and curved, often on a large scale. Architects and sculptors also like using steel because it is a material that stands the test of time. Now incorporate technology, and a steel artwork or sculptures becomes even more awe-inspiring.
A great example of one of those creative ideas is Crisscross Signal Spire in Dudley Square in Boston. It is an interactive sculpture, designed by Höweler + Yoon Architecture. The idea of this sculpture is for viewers to visualize the conversation between the city of Boston and its residents.
The tubes form an interconnected map of Boston’s many communities. Each segment represents one of the city’s 24 neighborhoods and lights up whenever a 311 request is submitted or resolved in the corresponding neighborhood. It also momentarily transforms into a sparkling beacon in response to tweets with the #signalspire hashtag.
As a bender roller, we were tasked with bending of eight 38 feet long stainless steel pipes (4” sch 40 size) with perforation along the full length. Pipes were bent with two 12-degree arcs, each at different heights, to create this braided array of tubes.
One challenge – all of these pieces were perforated with small holes. We had several discussions with the designers regarding effects of perforation on the bending outcome. We rolled a small sample piece to confirm the smoothness of the bend before the final production.
From the pictures, you can see the signal spire is an amazing and grand structure. If you ever in Boston, stop by the Dudley Square and see for yourself this fascinating example of modern design, curved steel, and technology working together.