Title: Date: Crystal Arch project nears completion for AU Professors Bayliss & Knapp
Arlon Bayliss and Jason Knapp, accompanied by a small group of curiosity seekers, watched as five years of their work hung above Eighth Street in downtown Anderson. Cars slowed, drivers leaned out of windows to get a better look at the massive steel frame for the Crystal Arch swung slowly over the Anderson City Building lawn.
Beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday, the Crystal Arch Project broached its final phase as the 12-foot-tall steel structure was welded together on its foundation outside the City Building near the war memorial.
In roughly 12 weeks, the project is anticipated to reach fruition.
"It's absolutely fantastic," said Knapp, the arch's co-creator and architect, as he watched workers weld the giant skeleton together. "When you get involved with such a long-term project, you sometimes wonder if you're ever going to see the end. When a time like this comes, its almost like a dream."
Once completed, the arch will contain 360 glass crystals engraved with the names of contributors to the project. Illuminated internally, the arch will be handicap-accessible.
Further plans to expand the project to include an informational kiosk and Madison County storybook are still in the developmental phases. Knapp and Bayliss, both Anderson University professors, began the project in 1996 as a means to pay homage to the community's cultural heritage as well as serve as a collaborative effort between community businesses and artisans.
The vast majority of the arch was produced locally, with Mofab creating the steel frame and Moss Glass working with the crystals.
"The biggest part of the project has been collaborating with other people in the community," Bayliss said.
Max Hains, president of Mofab, said construction of the final project began in August and finished about a month ago.
"We're happy for the artists," he said, watching his workers climb the arch like children on a jungle gym. "It's been fun and I am fortunate to have so many experienced people at the shop. They really worked hard."
Crystals are still available for sponsorship for $375 per crystal. Inquiries as to the purchase of crystals should be directed to Beth Griner at 648-6112.
Keri S. McGrath is a reporter for the Anderson Herald Bulletin.