Fermilab History and Archives Project

Robert R. Wilson's Sculpture and Architecture - Tractricious


Tractricious, the latest addition to Fermilab's outdoor sculpture collection, stands erect at last in front of the Fermilab Industrial Complex in general, Industrial Building l specifically. The artistic design for the piece came from Fermilab Director Emeritus Robert R. Wilson; the structural design was accomplished by Tom Nicol of the Technical Support Section (TSS); Paul Mantsch, Head of TSS, provided the impetus within TSS for completion of the project. Jerry Peterson and Luis Ramirez of TSS were involved with the welding and machining of the sculpture's tubes; Kurt Kasules, also of TSS, along with Fermilab's Construction Engineering Services Department, provided civil construction support and assured that the sculpture was up to code. Nicol began preliminary work in December of 1985, and the sculpture rose complete the week of June 2, 1988.

The sculpture is comprised of 16 stainless steel outer tubes, made from scrap cryostat tubes from Tevatron dipole magnets, and 16 inner tubes, which are 5 in., Schedule 40, carbon steel pipes from old well casings salvaged from the Fermilab "bone yard." Each outer tube is 39 ft long and 6-1/2 in. in diameter, and weigh 550 pounds apiece; the sculpture itself rises to a height of 36 ft.

Each tube is free standing, designed to comfortably withstand winds up to 80 mph. In fact, the sculpture gently oscillates in the absence of wind and a light breeze acts as a damper to stop vibrations.

Source: FermiNews Vol. XI, No. 15, Aug. 12, 1988