New Sculpture on University of Michigan's North Campus creates optical illusion

The kinetic cube installation was designed by artist Philip Stewart

The new sculpture at the entrance of U of M's G.G. Brown building

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A new art installation in front of University of Michigan's Department of Mechanical Engineering has people looking twice.

The kinetic cube sculpture titled "3 Cubes In A Seven Axis Relationship" was designed to do exactly that. The installation outside the G.G. Brown Building on Hayward Street appears to balance on just a tip of one of three massive cubes. The top cube spins, giving the impression that the stationary sculpture is moving.


The sculpture on Hayward Street remains partially blocked off (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

It took Northern Californian artist Philip Stewart two years to complete, and he drew inspiration from the works of expressionist and kinetic sculptors David Smith and George Rickey, respectively.

The sculpture is 25 feet tall and weighs 14,000 pounds. It was commissioned by the College of Engineering to honor the late Charles Vest, who attended U of M, was the former dean of the College of Engineering, University of Michigan provost, president of the National Academy of Engineering and president of MIT.

The sculpture is Stewart's second on University of Michigan's campus. Another work of his, along with artist and mentor Kenneth Snelson called "Indexer II" was completed in 2000 and is located near the reflecting pool on Bonisteel Road.

Stewart hopes the sculpture at the entrance of the G.G. Brown building will inspire engineering students to think outside the box. 


Behind the scenes: Installing the massive sculpture (Video: University of Michigan Engineering)


About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.