Make This Sustainably-built Sculpture Part of Your Earth Day Celebrations

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Georgia Tech Earth Day celebrates sustainability and gives you a feeling of getting back to nature at “Chip Off the Ole Block,” the large outdoor art installation by renowned sculptor Patrick Dougherty located at the EcoCommons.

Comprised of four intertwined structures made entirely of sustainably harvested sticks, branches, and sweetgum saplings, the sculpture has a footprint of approximately 35 feet by 50 feet with a maximum height of 14 feet. The volunteer effort to harvest and build the piece was enormous, and Dougherty was assisted by over 60 volunteers, including 29 Georgia Tech students. The project totaled 500 volunteer hours across 18 days, with 4-10 volunteers working 8 hours a day.

The work is featured as part of the Georgia Tech Earth Day celebration April 19-23 and is included in a virtual tour of the new EcoCommons on Tuesday, April 20 at 12 noon. Register at

Artist Patrick Dougherty is known across the United States and internationally for his stickwork installations built from plant materials, which celebrate nature through both the materials and visually flowing lines. In designing "Chip Off the Ole Block,” he explained that he thought of it as shrubbery parading as architecture, and wanted to reflect the cityscape of Atlanta with its stair-stepping design.

The materials used to build the sculpture are mostly sweetgum that was sourced by volunteers at Serenbe, a community located in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. Dougherty said these sweetgum saplings were regrowth occurring in a field under larger pines. Flexibility and sustainability are both important factors in his selection of building materials, and he notes that these saplings will grow again once cut. The sculpture is expected to last one to two years before the materials start to decompose.

This project was made possible by the Kendeda Fund and was sponsored by Georgia Tech Arts, the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, and Serenbe. To see more whimsical stickwork art installations by Patrick Dougherty visit his website at



Photo courtesy the Kendeda Building


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    Elizabeth Geiger
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