Structural sculpting in ice, inspired by Heinz Isler

Inspired by the astounding structural ice sculptures of Heinz Isler, in the winter of 1999 a group of undergraduates, along with a graduate student (me) and an instructor in civil engineering (Mark Valenzuela) constructed some ice shells on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

The equipment used was a weather balloon, some gardening fabric, lots of water, and lots of cold air, the last of which was in plentiful supply in upstate New York that winter. Some sample photographs are shown below, and the event was reported on in the Cornell Chronicle

In the winter of 2004, a group of Johns Hopkins seniors, along with me, now a professor at JHU, took a shot at thin shell ice sculpting in the less hospitable environment of Baltimore, in the Mid-Atlantic region. Blessed with one or two cold spells, Liakos Ariston, Ben McKay, Andy Myers, and Tom Lydigsen came up with some very otherworldly results. The structures were the talk of the campus for the half day of brutal Maryland sunshine they were able to survive.

A group at MIT has recently made a similar effort, with very nice results.