Quark Park sparks playful collaborations between engineers and
Posted Oct. 15, 2006 by Teresa
Four engineering faculty members were among ten Princeton
University scientists who teamed up with local sculptors, architects
and landscape architects to create the phenomenon known as Quark Park
Located in downtown Princeton, the park features playful garden
sculptures that evoke the serious research that the scientists
The park was created by landscape architects Alan Goodheart and
Peter Soderman and architect Kevin Wilkes. Two years ago the
threesome created another temporary park at the same location -- on
Paul Robeson Place -- called "Writers Block," a collection of garden
follies inspired by the work of 11 writers.
This time around, Soderman told the Princeton Weekly Bulletin
, "science was the obvious choice because there are so many
scientists in Princeton and most scientists are relative aliens to
the lay public. People don't understand what scientists do."
The four engineering faculty members with pieces in the garden
are Perry Cook, professor of computer science; Naomi Leonard,
professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; George Scherer,
professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Jim Sturm,
professor of electrical engineering and the director of the
Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials.
Scroll down to see photos of their collaborations.
To create this sculpture, artist Nancy Cohen collaborated with Jim
Sturm, professor of electrical engineering, and Shirley M.
Tilghman, president of Princeton University and professor of
molecular biology. The piece, seen here illuminated at night, is an
abstract representation of the how mammals sense smell and remember
Scherer , professor of civil and environmental engineering,
collaborated with sculptor Kate Graves to create a stone table that
incorporates a board for the African game of Mankala. Scherer has
created a website
and slide show explaining the materials science that drove the
design of the sculpture, including a built-in experiment that may
cause one leg to crumble, and providing a behind-the-scenes glimpse
of how the stone table came into being.
Cook collaborated with sculptor Jonathan Shor to create a giant
granite xylophone. When the xylophone is played (the metal bars at
left serve as the hammers), a microphone picks up the vibrations and
sends them to a box containing some simple digital signal processing
equipment that adds delays and reverb to the xylophone sounds as
they are being played.
Cook has composed a musical
interpretation of Shor's breaking of the granite as the
xylophone sculpture was being created.
Naomi Ehrich Leonard
collaborated with glass artist Bob Kuster to create "Motion
in the Ocean " an installation that metaphorically represents
Leonard's work in feedback. Inspired by the movement of schools of
fish, Leonard has developed a mathematical system that allows
robotic gliders to self-choreograph their movements in response to
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