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Doug Hollis
Unspecific Gravity, 1998

The chromed copper fountain elements replicate the atomic structure of a water (H2O) molecule.

University of South Florida, Tampa
Time Warner Gardens

Unspecific Gravity is a site-specific project occupying a one-half acre site in the science district of the USF Tampa Campus. The project addresses themes drawn from the disciplines of biology and chemistry. The central feature of the site is a 31 ft. diameter reflecting pool from which 12 stainless steel poles emerge, each capped with a chromed model of the H2O (water) molecule. A series of exposed aggregate sidewalks transverse the site. The sidewalks placement were determined by the “desire-lines” worn into the landscape by pedestrians prior to the projects construction. In affect, the sidewalks memorialize the natural use of the site by individuals without the precondition of design structure and thus speak directly to the human condition. There were 11 mature oak trees were on the site when Hollis began his design. The artist celebrates these trees by formalizing the drip-line area beneath each tree though the application of a bed of fine river rock. The rock also serves to protect the shallow roots of the trees from foot traffic which otherwise would harm the trees. The user is invited to linger in the site by the placement of 18 hemispherical seats with terrazzo seat tops that depict the electronic structure of common elements in the periodic chart. Bronze inlays in the terrazzo seat top illustrate the electrons, protons and neutrons for the given element represented. The seats placed under the shade of the trees creatively enhance the use of the site as a park, offering a setting for students, faculty and staff to share informal exchanges in landscape focused on subject matter related to their studies.

Students from the USF Art Department participated in the construction of Unspecific Gravity in several key areas. A directed study with Vincent Ahern introduced the students to the field public art: its history, process and product. In workshops with Doug Hollis, the students gained hands-on experience by assisting in the construction of the bases for the concrete benches. Students also played an important role in the installation of the sculptural elements and in the subsequent final adjustments.


View of chromed H2O models.

Terrazzo and brass bench top reflecting the electronic structure of Calcium.

Terrazzo and brass bench top reflecting the electronic structure of Carbon.

Terrazzo and brass bench top reflecting the electronic structure of Iron.

Unspecific Gravity made possible by Florida's Art in State Buildings Program