Ever since he watched a student strip off his shirt and take an upper-body rinse in it, Tom Seligman, '65, has been routing his cross-campus bike errands past the newest outdoor sculpture on campus--to see how others are interacting with it.
"I've had some great conversations there with astrophysics majors," says the Cantor Arts Center director. "One tried to explain the clockworks in terms of the movements of the planets, but he lost me in about two seconds."
Timetable is the first West Coast work by sculptor Maya Lin, who received considerable attention for her Vietnam Vet-erans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Dedicated in October, Lin's Stanford piece is sited in front of the new Packard Build-ing on Serra Mall.
Carved from a 40,000-pound chunk of black granite, the circular sculpture is both clock and water fountain. Motorized discs rotate on the submerged surface to record seconds, minutes and hours. Months are tracked on the ground as the granite cylinder takes a year to turn slowly on its axis, passing markers embedded in the pavement. As the years pass, a barely visible mat of algae will form on the stone, filtering the water and causing it to cascade even more gracefully off the sloping sides of the fountain.
After she designed the piece, Lin recommended the firms that built the fountain, clockworks and turntable and carved the granite. But it was up to Julie Hardin-Stauter, Stanford's associate manager of construction services, to assemble the general contractor and structural teams that excavated the site, sunk the concrete piers and steel anchors, and leveled the foundation. The granite was delivered by flatbed truck from Minnesota and finally set on its base at 9 p.m. on an early-September evening.
"It's been like Toad's wild ride for a year," says Hardin-Stauter, who will continue to monitor the control panels inside the underground pump station that keep the sculpture's many parts running smoothly. "It'll probably be hard to go back to mundane tasks like remodeling work stations and patching the roof on Hoover House--but what an incredible experience this was."
Read a January 2011 update on this story.