OSU forensics center adds sculpture

By Kirby Lee Davis
The Journal Record
July 13, 2012

A 52.9-foot-tall sculpture created by JunoWorks being assembled for the western entrance plaza to the forensic sciences building and the OSU Center for Health Sciences. (Photo by Kirby Lee Davis, The Journal Record)

A 52.9-foot-tall sculpture created by JunoWorks being assembled for the western entrance plaza to the forensic sciences building and the OSU Center for Health Sciences. (Photo by Kirby Lee Davis)

TULSA – The final assembly started with eight carbon steel rings unloaded from a semi-truck Monday at Tulsa’s Oklahoma State University Forensic Sciences and Biomedical Research Facility.

A construction team from Denver’s JunoWorks welded the pieces together to form a 52.9-foot-tall sculpture by Newton, Mass., artist Ralph Helmick. With the seams smoothed Thursday, JunoWorks will paint the conical structure silver on Friday. The following day it will mount the sculpture on four 10-foot-tall stands at the western entrance plaza to the forensic sciences building and the OSU Center for Health Sciences, giving historic Route 66 another signature landmark.

JunoWorks owner Mike Mancarella said the firm had little trouble putting the pieces together, having already done that and taken it apart.

“That’s what we do,” Mancarella said, noting his firm’s past work for many artists. “We do these all over the country.”

The Denver company started some four months ago with Helmick’s computer designs, cutting out various images and elements from carbons steel sheets. It welded them together into its towering form and painted it silver. JunoWorks then cut it into eight rings no bigger than 8.5 feet tall for easy shipment to Tulsa.

A number of iconic symbols decorate the steel cone, each one drawn from what goes on inside the forensic sciences building.

“You’ve got molecules,” said JunoWorks welder Scott Schuller. “You’ve got a DNA structure. You’ve got a brain, neuron, also some Tulsa things. We’ve got a cityscape up there, a skyline. We’ve got a heart monitor.”

The $376,000 project marks the end of initial construction for the five-story building, a joint venture between OSU and the city of Tulsa, and fulfills their legal requirements for art placement. The Oklahoma Art and Public Places Office will oversee its maintenance.

Helmick is making five smaller works re-creating some of the tower’s icons for display in the forensic building’s elevator lobbies, said OSU Director of Administrative Affairs Eric J. Polak.

Mary Kell, architectural project manager for the city of Tulsa, said Helmick will visit Tulsa in two weeks to look over the sculpture and help install its lighting, as well as the final pieces.
The plaza will allow visitors to look not only at the sculpture’s circular face, but within the hollow cone.

“It’s kind of a moving sculpture that doesn’t move,” Polak said. “The movement is the individual moving around it. By whatever angle of the sculpture you have, you’re going to pick up different elements.”