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Public Art Brings Petroleum Engineering Outside the Classroom

Sculpture is located just outside Terry Fuller Petroleum Engineering Research Building.

April 16, 2014 | Written by Jaryn Kilmer

“Fountain” by Juanjo Novella“Fountain” by Juanjo Novella

Thanks to the latest Texas Tech University System public art installation, students studying in the new Terry Fuller Petroleum Engineering Research Building can enjoy a new perspective on the subject by stepping outside the classroom walls.

Created by artist Juanjo Novella of Portugalete, Spain, the steel sculpture, titled “Fountain,” is located in the south courtyard of the new facility. The structure stands 20 feet tall and is meant to conjure images of swirling water, geologic formations or oil flowing through pipes.

“I was inspired by how petroleum and water move together and wanted to integrate that into the piece,” Novella said. “The sculpture depicts the movement and flow of water as if from a spring, which is where the name originates.”

The elements of the sculpture were cut out of one-inch pieces of thick steel, which come together to create a deliberately free-flowing appearance and promote individual interpretation.

Weighing in at 11 tons, the piece is positioned to invite visitors into the courtyard. The openings of the sculpture cast shadows on the ground and during the day and when lit at night, resulting in dramatic visual impact.

Novella was selected from 32 applicants and began creating the $193,000 project during construction of the Terry Fuller Petroleum Engineering Research Building. This was his first commission in the United States, having completed works in Europe, Asia and New Zealand. 

“Mr. Novello did an outstanding job of portraying elements of petroleum engineering through his art,” said Al Sacco, dean of the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering. “We are proud to boast one of the finest petroleum engineering facilities in the country, and this sculpture is the perfect addition to our new building.”

The 42,000-square-foot facility houses state-of-the-art classroom and research space, allowing students and faculty to integrate formal teaching environments with hands-on practical applications.

The TTU System's Public Art Program was initiated by the Board of Regents in 1998 as an investment in the campus environments at each of its institutions. Through the program, public artworks are funded using one percent of the estimated total cost of each new major capital project. Since then, 98 items created by some of today’s leading artists have been added to the TTU System’s campuses.

About the Texas Tech University System 
The Texas Tech University System is one of the top public university systems in the state of Texas, consisting of four component institutions—Texas Tech UniversityTexas Tech University Health Sciences CenterAngelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso—and operating at 12 academic sites and centers.  Headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, the TTU System has an annual operating budget of $1.7 billion and approximately 17,000 employees focused on advancing higher education, health care, research and outreach.

In 2012, total research expenditures approached $200 million and total enrollment exceeded 43,700 students for the first time in the TTU System’s history. Whether it’s contributing billions of dollars annually in economic impact or being the only system in Texas to house an academic institution, law school, and medical school at the same location, the TTU System continues to prove that anything is possible.