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Chapman Technical Group
"Without the help of Koike, we would have had to fabricate a fairly complicated, not nearly as reliable mechanism."

Ashland, Kentucky, is located on the southern bank of the Ohio River and as of January 2020, it is now home to the country’s largest combination of classic mythological and contemporary art, thanks to a very generous but anonymous benefactor. This benefactor and his close friend, world-renowned artist Ginés Serrán-Pagán, were inspired to donate sculptures to Ashland’s riverfront property in 2019.

To honor the city’s metallurgical history, the two decided to create sculptures of Venus, Vulcan and Genesis, an abstract element based on images from Ashland’s Blazer High School’s original art designs. Genesis represents a new beginning in Ashland with the five rods in the sculpture representing four elements of life: earth, air, water, fire, and God. Venus and Vulcan stand at 25 feet tall, while Genesis is 40 feet tall and rotates 360 degrees. As the sculptures were being created by Serrán-Pagán in China, Ashland’s mayor was busy looking for a firm that could construct the pedestals needed for these three statues, including a rotation mechanism to help bring Genesis to life. Chapman Technical Group, a West Virginia based engineering, architectural and geospatial firm, was working in Ashland at the time and decided to take on this challenge. David Hoy, a structural engineer at Chapman Technical Group, headed the project.

 

“As we started putting together a structural design for Genesis’ pedestal, we recognized that we were going to need a very specific and one-of-a-kind mechanism to accomplish six revolutions an hour continuously, “said David Hoy. “At first, we wanted to fabricate our own mechanism; however, we realized it would be difficult to service in the future if someone from our team was not available. We needed something reliable with readily available parts and service.”

 

Hoy began researching rotation mechanisms and discovered Koike’s rare turntable capabilities. “Our team was so excited because we found something that was traditionally not used for this kind of application but it fit perfectly for what we wanted to do with this piece of art,” explained Hoy. “I worked extensively with the Koike engineering division and they had some superb data available that gave me confidence that the turntable would be able to support the gravity and lateral loads we were anticipating.”

 

“We are known for longevity and durability, that is our trademark”, said Cliff White, Welding Project Manager at Koike. “Hoy and his team were looking for something that can run continuously at 6 revolutions per hour with minimum maintenance and down time so this really fits into our basic equipment features. About 80% of all the positioning products we build are built to order and built around specific applications, so we were well prepared for a project like this.”

 

The end product became a turntable specifically fabricated for this uncommon application. A heavy-duty motor was added so the turntable could run continuously. Harder bearings were used for extra support. Within an eight to 12-week fabrication process, the turntable was delivered to the site and fit seamlessly into the pedestal’s design. “This turntable is really the brain of the entire project and I am still shocked to this day that we were able to find something so turnkey for such a unique project,” said Hoy.

 

“Most of our equipment is designed for fairly high-duty cycles,” explained White. “This is above and beyond that. With a 100% duty cycle, we had to pay more attention to the specific wear items such as the gearing, the drives, and the motors. We made sure to design this table so that it could run continuously for  years, before it would need any major maintenance.”

 

“Without the help of Koike, we would have had to fabricate a fairly complicated, not nearly as reliable mechanism,” Hoy explained. “It would have been an iterative approach because it’s not something that you can just pull a design out of textbook to reference. In the long run, I’m sure we would’ve spent more money and dealt with failures.”

 

On working with Koike, a partner with whom he’d had no previous experience, Hoy had high praise for the entire process. “My sales representative was great. He was always checking in on the status of our project and even made it to the statue’s inauguration. It was really neat to see that Koike had that much interest in our work that they came out to see it first-hand. Overall, it was such a great project from beginning to end. The benefactor is happy. The team is happy. And the city is happy.”

David Hoy
Structural Engineer
Chapman Technical Group

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