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August 09, 2019

Philip Johnson’s Turning Point Sculpture and Turning Point Garden

The Turning Point sculpture was designed by world-renowned architect Philip Johnson in 1996. It was originally located on Bellflower Road near Guilford House. Turning Point was created specifically for the John and Mildred Putnam Sculpture Collection, which was established as a permanent endowment at CWRU by Mildred Andrews Putnam in 1981 for the acquisition of sculptures. The goal of the Putnam Collection is to enrich the visual and educational environment of the CWRU campus and of University Circle by developing awareness and understanding of the variety and vitality of the work of regional artists.

Turning Point sculpture in its original location on Bellflower Road near Guilford House

Turning Point is the first sculpture designed by Philip Johnson, a Cleveland native, who referred to the work as “a modern Stonehenge.” It is composed of five, putty-colored angled columns that flare as they rise 17 to 20 feet above a blue, circular concrete base about 30 feet in diameter. The columns are made of molded Douglas fir panels coated with painted fiberglass, and are illuminated with fiber-optic lighting. The Turning Point sculpture was considered by art critics to be a daring, modern addition to architecture on campus. CWRU art history professor Harvey Buchanan was quoted in the 06/20/1997 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education as saying that the sculpture “symbolizes a new spirit in the university as it approaches the next century.” The sculpture was dedicated on the CWRU campus in June 1997.

The Turning Point sculpture was originally placed over a key campus pathway that joins the two halves of Case Western Reserve University: the former campuses of Western Reserve University and the Case Institute of Technology. However, beginning with the construction of the Tinkham Veale University Center in 2011, the Turning Point sculpture was disassembled to make room on Bellflower Road for the new building. In 2019, it was reinstalled across the street from the Tinkahm Veale University Center, near the Weatherhead School of Management and East Bell Commons, on Bellflower Road.

In 2000, Turning Point Garden was installed between Guilford House and the Mather Dance Center on Bellflower Road, near the Turning Point sculpture before the sculpture was relocated. It remained undisturbed by the construction of the Tinkham Veale University Center, and currently rests in the elbow on the east side of the building. The four-piece sculpture garden was created as a compliment to the Turning Point sculpture, and was also produced as part of the John and Mildred Putnam Sculpture Collection. Philip Johnson designed Turning Point Garden as a single, integrated space to serve as a gathering place with informal seating arrangements for study, performances, and outdoor classes.

Students in the Turning Point Garden amphitheater, 2003

The largest piece in the garden is an open, bowl-like amphitheater, with bench seating for approximately 50 people. Terraced landscaping near the amphitheater provides additional seating for approximately 30 people. Next to the amphitheater is a tube-shaped sculpture that was created to mask the electrical and lighting equipment for the amphitheater, and which can also serve as a small dressing room or entrance area for performers. Turning Point Garden also includes a large, curved sculpture that is composed of several panels made out of a heavy plastic mesh. The interior provides an additional meeting space, and consists of an informal array of benches and tables. Both Turning Point Garden and the Turning Point sculpture stand out as unique examples of art and architecture on campus.

Written by Julia Teran

Posted by hxy2 at August 9, 2019 02:55 PM

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