O star, the fairest one in sight,
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud . . .
— Robert Frost
is the fairest one in sight, and also the largest. And it’s
lofty, hanging from the vaulted ceiling of the atrium of the new
Priscilla Payne Hurd Academic Complex, which opened in October.
it’s not obscured by clouds. That’s just poetic
atrium is mostly glass, and the imposing Moravian star, which
weighs more than 800 pounds, has a surprisingly
airy feel. Sunlight
turns it into a jewel. At night, 35 halogen spotlights criss-cross
it with their beams.
Kainz, the sculptor who designed it, was born into a family of
stonecutters and is best known for
monumental granite pieces
around the Allentown area where he lives. It was his task
to apply himself to the problem of analyzing the Moravian star,
out the glass and metal components to various artisans, and
supervising their assembly and the final hanging.
Moravian star is known as a rhombicuboctahedron, says mathematics
emerita Doris Schattschneider: a three-dimensional
faceted object whose core comprises 18 squares and eight
The rays of the star are the elongated facets of these
squares and triangles.
the process of construction, there was nothing light or fragile
about the glass star. Each of its
tip of a square or triangular pyramid made of glass more
than a quarter of an inch thick. The average weight of
Taylor Backes glassworks in Boyertown, where the pyramids were
poured, they took shape in heavy graphite
and then were seared
by blowtorches until the thick molten glass cooled
and hardened from white-hot to an apple-juice yellow. Only
cooled and annealed did the glass become transparent,
and even then
it was (and is) dotted with streaks and bubbles.
Atlas Machining & Welding Inc. in Northampton, Pa., the
pyramids were clamped to a stainless-steel armature
strong enough to sustain half a ton. At full spread, it is
9 feet from the top
to the bottom of its longest facets and 5 feet in
before the ribbon-cutting on October 18, the star and its halogen
attendants were hung in place.
now it floats
in the entry hall of the College’s newest building—a
perpetual metaphor of enlightenment.