A futuristic, 80-foot obelisk of stacked stainless-steel plates with a corkscrew-like twist, the Kessler Campanile looms over the new Georgia Tech Plaza, the town square of the Olympic Village where athletes will converge in a multicultural celebration of the '96 Games.
Capped with a stylized tribute to the Tech Tower, the spire is lit dramatically from within by four 150-watt halogen bulbs, the light bent by 3,904 glass rods sandwiched between the 244 metal plates, which are 48 inches square at the bottom and taper to less than 18 inches square at the top.
In its granite-faced base, surrounded by the fountain/stage at the center of the 300-seat plaza amphitheater, four huge speakers form the carillon that will belt out the "Ramblin' Wreck" fight song, "Tara's Theme" and other tunes selected by Bucky Johnson, Greg Colson and Ron Mendola of the Tech Music Department.
The campanile is the vision of artist Richard Hill and several Tech alumni, from engineers to physicists to machinists. At the top of that list is Richard Kessler, IE '68, MS IE '70, the former head of Days Inns who hoped to alleviate a "dearth of artistic inspiration on campus" by cosponsoring the plaza next to the Student Center with the classes of 1943 and 1953.
"It was clear that the plaza needed an artistic focus," Kessler said. "We wanted this to become a focal point for the campus. It needed to have a lot of presence. I wanted it to use light and music in some way, and that led to the campanile idea."
The campanile now takes its place as a new symbol and icon for Tech alongside the cherished Tech Tower.