Frequently in the steel bending and fabrication industries, our work focuses on the somewhat austere nature of steel. Even though it is curved, steel still maintains a sturdy, rigid aspect. The solid nature of the metal is a defining characteristic that isn’t easy to shed. Though there are some artists and designers who can push those notions.
One project which CMRP was pleased to help involved helical rolling pipe for a climbing structure located at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences in West Virginia. The result of this project is a beautiful installation which helps capture and engage children as part of their Discovery Museum. As part of our work with Luckey Climbers, we provided helical pipe which formed the support structures of the monumental climber. We twisted 8” pipe into elongated spirals under a 4-foot plan view radius with a steep pitch.
Spencer Luckey, company president and chief designer, wanted to incorporate a piece that helped to connect the arts and sciences in a meaningful way for the children who would visit and view these both from a new angle with a literal twist. The design reaches 52 feet in height, and roughly 3-stories of the atrium of the center. The combination of steel with handcrafted wood platforms and netting offers an original exploration experience for children at the center. The undersides of the platforms are laminated with images of the Orion Nebula with the inspiration of creating a composite image to view from below.
In addition to appreciating this piece for its artistic nature, it also has a symbolic dedication which speaks to the spirit of the project. The climber is dedicated and named for Ashton, a grandchild of a Clay Center board member who loved climbing, the color purple, and Spiderman but sadly passed away too young. Ashton’s family’s memoriam speaks to the nature of the child and his exceptional inclusivity, so a project like this which seeks to bring children together in play and learning is a fitting and soaring tribute.
Sometimes the steel industry can look or feel simple and lack elegance at times. However, incorporating the artistic and flowing characteristics of curved steel such as helical rolling pipe can be used to bring out a moving experience when put to use in ways such as this project.