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Merlion 07-27-2007 07:33 PM

1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
It is sad. It is a beautiful sculpture.

I had previously mentioned this sculpture and noted its inherant structural design problem. (In post #35 of a very long thread, Does Size Matter?) The artist/designer Thomas Heatherwick is good and creative, but probably didn't have good structural engineering advice when designing this sculpture, or didn't pursue it.

Adding weight, see below, is not quite the solution. Adding damping to damp down the wind-induced vibration and resonance is. Even then, remedy at this stage may be too late, as a heavy central hub with good damping may have to be part of the original design.

1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk

27 July 2007, It cost more than 1.5million and is the tallest public sculpture in Britain.

But now The 'B of the Bang' in Manchester could be torn down amid worries about its safety.

Just months after it was unveiled in 2005, some of the giant spikes from the 184ft structure began to fall 80ft to the ground, triggering fears that a pedestrian or motorist could be speared.

Local residents christened the sculpture Kerplunk - after the popular children's game in which thin sticks are plucked out of a tube.

As problems continued, a slip road bordering it was closed, then part of a pavement next to the nearby City of Manchester Stadium was cordoned off.

There was further panic when the sculpture - which was funded by the North West Development Agency and the European Regional Development Fund - began to sway in high winds.

Since then, 170 weights have been fitted to the spikes, but its structural problems have not been solved and engineers claim its future is in doubt.

But this week the Bang's designer Thomas Heatherwick, 36, was praised as "potentially one of the great British designers of modern times" as Manchester Metropolitan University awarded him an honorary doctorate.

Last night, engineers branded the sculpture a "ludicrous waste of public money".

One senior source said: "It has been a nightmare from the start. The spikes exert too much strain on the centre of the sculpture. The fault lies in the design and it will eventually be pulled down because it is a danger." ...

fritchie 07-27-2007 08:21 PM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
I remember the original posts. It IS visually good and he needs encouragement, but clearly he also needs to know when to ask for advice.

ironman 07-28-2007 09:08 AM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
Hi, Where was the structural engineering committee that usually has to pass muster on large public art of this type?
Perhaps THEY should be standing under it on windy days.
Have a great day,

evaldart 07-28-2007 09:42 AM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
Just saw the bottom 50 feet, mount the whole thing again with a lower center of gravity and more "legs" creating a bigger footprint. You'd still have the great effectiveness of all those spikes, which IS the subject and content here. It never needed to be that high anyway - its just as good with more spikes embedded into the ground - it will appear as if it had fallen from the sky - stuck itself in the ground real good. There problem solved. :D

Merlion 07-28-2007 10:13 AM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
Structurally, emmbedding many of the bottom spikes into the ground is a good idea, Everlart. Artistically, it compromises the concept somewhat, but not by too much.

Perhaps you could send the idea to Heatherwick. Who knows, he may get you to go to the UK to be his advisor for this task. And if you cannot find his email, I'll try to find it and send to you. ;) ;)

racine 07-28-2007 09:16 PM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
i find the whole thing rather amusing, its typical of the modern trend in creative britain that an 'artist' does not get his/her hands dirty, thats for technicians and little people. also education is deemed pointless and backwards. thats why perhaps this 'sculpture' is a 70's throwback with little to commend it to the present day other than its scale....

allenring 07-30-2007 08:44 PM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
Ridged does not work, can't be made strong enough. Flexible would work better, each spire should be spring loaded, think sea anenamy.

Then the problem with spring loading would be the structure waving back and forth in a harmonic motion. If the wind forces the spires to wave at the natural frequency of the structure then the amplitude of the motion increases until as we like to say "catastrophic self disassembly" occurs.

What is needed is for the spires to be flexible and some form of dampening built in to the center of the structure that will counteract the motion created by any velocity of wind.

Check my post on the Air Force Memorial, they solved this exact problem on a structure that is 270' high, much larger.

cooljamesx1 07-30-2007 08:56 PM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
I think this sculpture is awesome relative to the public art I have seen.

I like evaldart's suggestion. people could wander through a maze of the spikes that stick in the ground. I think that would actually be better for the artistic value not to mention the structural advantages.

heath 08-09-2007 08:02 PM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
I think blaming Heatherwick (a modern genius of a designer in my opinion) is folly. The engineers needed to either create his vision as designed in a safe manner, or tell him that it just couldn't be done -- maybe with suggestions of how it could be done.

If it couldn't be safely designed, the engineers never should have signed off on it. And you don't get something this big approved if the engineers don't sign off on it.

As for the comment about getting your hands dirty -- anything of this scale is not built by any one artist... even if he was a fantastic welder, HE wouldn't be the one building this whole thing, it's just way, way too big.

The thing that *pisses* me off the most is the people in the article that comment about what a horrible waste of taxpayer money it was in the first place. Projects like this bring in way more money (in attention which translates to tourism and other commerce) than they cost. Generally a much better investment than a football stadium, for example, which often costs more to a city than it generates -- at least in America these days.

CroftonGraphics 08-12-2007 06:25 PM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
I agree,

engineers have to sign things off.
I wouldnt in my opinion say Heatherwick is a genius, i think that word is too liberally used, but I think he is a great artist designer who stands far above many other at this time.

I am sure there are many examples throughout history of sculptures falling down, the Collosus of Rhodes? Didnt that fall in an earthquake? lol.

Merlion 08-12-2007 11:09 PM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
For such a tall structure, it has to be signed by a professional structural engineer of course. But this metal sculpture has a very unusual shape of so many long slender spikes of different size and length all joined together at a hub which is not firmly fixed. It requires more specialist knowledge and experience of structural dynamics to check to ensure its safety. Perhaps the engineer in charge will have to engage specialists.

I'd mentioned before, there would be a lot of wind induced vibrations and there would be some spikes vibrating in resonance to these frequencies, causing the vibration amplitude to increase.

But this engineer in charge do not have the final say, as finally Heatherway is responsible for the public sculpture. By the way, the insurance company also have a say in this matter.

Blacksun 08-13-2007 01:04 PM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
Bad design....the spikes should have been circumference to circumference through the hub, not radiating from the hub. Tied together at the hub, it would have stood without ever dropping spikes. The sway / vibration could have been alleviated by any number of modern architectural dampening techniques and materials.

Bad design....someone's (genius????) doodle while on the phone, and assembled without thought as to the stress on the materials... Pull it down and start over. :cool:

Ries 08-13-2007 01:18 PM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
I dont know the specifics of this case, and England may work differently- But here in the USA, the artist would not have the "final say" and no insurance company would be involved until lawsuits were filed.

Here, on large public sculpture, what usually happens is that the commissioning body, the city or state, usually, will require that a structural engineer licensed in the state of construction design the structural aspects of the artwork, and stamp the drawings.
This is the same requirement as for a building or bridge.
Often times, the government will have their own engineers who will vet these drawings.

The artist cannot overrule the engineer- and in big projects, there will be building inspectors involved as well.
Often, on transit or other civic infrastructure projects which commission artwork, there will be in house engineers who will monitor the job along the way.
I have had engineers working for Metro, from LA, for example, come to my shop to verify materials, or welding techniques.

The liability on a finished work like this would then go back to the engineer who signed off on the design- at least thats the way it would work here. If the artist followed stamped engineering drawings, he would be somewhat less liable, although, of course, if someone was injured, lawsuits would fly everywhere.

The structural engineer's insurance company would become involved only if there was a legal claim against the engineer.

So it is unlikely, but not impossible, that something like this would happen in any of the public art situations I have been involved in. Most have far too many checks and balances, especially when you get into the realm of $3 million US, for it ever to get this far.

Merlion 10-24-2007 07:27 AM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
In post #1, this is how the news story I posted begins.

27 July 2007, It cost more than 1.5million and is the tallest public sculpture in Britain.

But now The 'B of the Bang' in Manchester could be torn down amid worries about its safety.

Just months after it was unveiled in 2005, some of the giant spikes from the 184ft structure began to fall 80ft to the ground, ....

This is the latest new story of this unfortunate sculpture.

Legal action over Bang sculpture

24 Oct 2007, Manchester council bosses are taking legal action against the makers of the B of the Bang sculpture, as it is still not safe years after it was built.

The artwork remains fenced off and without nine of its spikes.
The 184ft (56m) artwork was unveiled in 2005 at Eastlands, near the City of Manchester Stadium, to commemorate the Commonwealth Games.

It remains fenced off and without nine of its spikes, which had to be removed last year after one of them fell off.

The council is going to the High Court to seek funds to complete the works.

The companies it is launching proceedings against are Thomas Heatherwick Studio Limited and their subcontractors Packman Lucas Limited, Flint and Neill Partnership and Westbury Structures Limited.

Manchester City Council is accusing them of breach of contract and negligence.

The council's chief executive, Sir Howard Bernstein, said: "I want to emphasise the council's commitment to securing a structurally sound and viable B of the Bang on this site.

"We want a lasting memorial to the games, and we want an iconic structure that enhances the role of Sportcity and contributes to the ongoing revival of east Manchester.

"The project has taken too long to bring forward although we have given the artist and their subcontractors every opportunity to remedy the situation.

"Our forbearance has now been tested to the full." ....

Landseer 10-24-2007 08:54 AM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
Made out of STEEL, and steel rusts, so it can never be 100% safe, it will need constant periodic maintenance and checking it. Corrosion and metal fatigue could drop spikes at any time and the only way to fix that is; maintenance!

evaldart 10-24-2007 09:24 AM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
Damn thats pretty. But Landseer's right. Better stay on top of the corrosion. Think about the millions that are spent by entities to keep bridges alive...and they are painted. Other giant steel sculptures can get away with less upkeep because they do not involve so many joints that are under constant load (by design). Now if they can put a man on the moon then they can figure out a way to cast this thing SOLID. Then you never have to worry - it will fall apart during a later century when mankind has solved all the problems caused by gravity.

heath 10-24-2007 11:14 AM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
Well, it's corten, not mild steel, so if it was designed properly (proper drainage for water runoff, etc), then corrosion's not a big issue. Once the weathering steel reaches a certain point, it stops rusting. The rust of corten forms a protective layer of oxidization, sort of like stainless steel does, but this is visible.

Merlion 10-25-2007 05:12 AM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
Landseer, Evaldart and Heath, The type of steel and the corrosion are not the cause of the failure. This tall sculpture failed very soon after installation.

As mentioned in post #11, it has to do with wind induced resonance vibrations of the spikes.

I'll try to explain although it is not easy. Each spike, like the arms of music tuning forks, has a certain natural vibration friequency depending on the cylindrical spike's dimensions. When strong wind flows nearly at right angles past long cylinders, the cylinder is pushed sideways in alternate directions at certain frequency depending on both the wind speed and the cylinder's dimensions. Resonance occurs when these two frequencies are more or less the same. This results in a damaging increase in the vibration magnitude of the spike, sometimes fracturing or breaking it.

Engineers would try to select the cylinder's dimensions to avoid these two frequencies coinciding. This is all right for one or a small number of cylinders.

In the case of this sculpture, there are so many spikes of different dimensions which means many natural vibration frequencies. When strong wind flows past the sculpture, there are many wind induced vibration frequencies. The design of this sculpture is such that these wind vibrations get transmitted from one spike to the others. This means there is a chance of a vibration resonance causing breakage of certain spikes.

This is a basic problem of the design.

Merlion 05-14-2008 08:12 AM

Re: 1.5m spike statue could go Kerplunk
Heatherwick is a good creative art designer. But big and unusual shaped designs carries big risks. One of them is structural problems. I don't think he has done model testing for this sculpture.

See above posts for the picture and the story so far.

Manchester council claims back 280k for fixing problem sculpture

14 My 2008. ... Manchester city council claims to have spent over 280,000 [$544,000] on work linked with Thomas Heatherwick’s 'B of the Bang' sculpture since it was built. ...

Since it was completed in 2005, nine of the sculpture’s steel spikes have had to be removed, and it has had to be continuously inspected for fears of public safety.

The council is taking Thomas Heatherwick Studio and its subcontractors ... to court over the sculpture’s problems. A High Court hearing will begin on 24 November. ...

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