Pendulum to return

GVL /  Bo Anderson
Students protest the removal of the GVSU Wrecking Ball on Wednesday night.

GVL / Bo Anderson Students protest the removal of the GVSU ‘Wrecking Ball’ on Wednesday night.

Sarah Hillenbrand

Grand Valley State University’s infamous pendulum has recently garnered unprecedented national
notoriety, and earlier this week, a committee to make decisions about the pendulum’s reinstallation
met for the first time.

“We intend to reinstall the pendulum at the existing site, but will put in safety features so it’s seen as
an art sculpture,” said Tim Thimmesch, associate vice president for Facilities Services. “We haven’t
come up with any solutions yet but will be looking for those and discussing them.”

Thimmesch said the committee, which consists of students and staff members, will meet several more
times to discuss what safety features will be most effective, but added that they hope to act in a timely

“A structural engineer is looking at the current installation,” Thimmesch said. “Structurally, the beam
is safe but the harness, cable and spike need to be fixed. We’re looking to accomplish those repairs to
the sculpture itself.”

There is still currently no time frame for when the pendulum will return to campus, because it’s
uncertain not only how long the repairs will take, but also who can undertake those repairs.

“There is no specific time set for the return of the pendulum because it’ll take time to make sure all
the right steps are being taken to protect the artist’s vision/educational value and safety,” said Tim
Layer, vice president of the Student Senate Campus Affairs Committee. “We want to make sure that
everyone will be protected from any harm.”

Steven Quirk, a mechanical engineering student who is also on the committee, said they are hoping
the repairs will be quick and added that the end goal is to put the pendulum back up.

“We want to reinstall the ball but also make it safe,” he said. “We want to have the safety of it but want
it to be art, because that’s what it is first.”

The committee is also discussing how to change student attitudes about the pendulum so that it is
seen as an educational piece of university artwork, Thimmesch said.

“(There are) no solutions yet,” he said. “We want it to be returned as art and a scientific exhibit with
the appropriate signage. The intent is not as a ride but as an art sculpture that it was originally
designed to be.”

Layer said the committee agreed that it wants the pendulum to still be interactive in some way so that
it can be used as a teaching tool, but not for anyone to ride on.

“The safety concerns were discussed as to what actions need to be taken to keep everything
protected,” Layer said. “The pendulum has always been a tradition, and (it’s a matter) of spreading the
word to let students know this is a work of art and should be respected. The pendulum has generated
a lot of news, and we hope to keep the pendulum tradition around for many generations.”

The committee hopes to make the process a quick one and decide on solutions for the pendulum’s
installations in its upcoming meetings.

“I like art and I like the sculpture,” Thimmesch said. “I’m glad students enjoy it and are interested in
seeing it returned, and I know they will be respectful to it.”

[email protected]