Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment of a multi-part series about the new science complex at Crossroads School.

It’s little more than a collection of beams, cables and metallic flaps, but to the Crossroads School community it’s so much more than that.

Perched atop the special projects pavilion of the private school’s new Science Education & Research Facility is a sculpture that officials see as a visual emblem of the campus and its commitment to education in the intersecting worlds of art and science.

The sculpture, which was designed by world-renowned artist Ned Kahn, was recently installed on-site as Crossroads moves towards the completion of its $20-million, 25,000-square-foot science complex.

Kahn created a hyperbolic paraboloid with a series of delicately arranged intersecting cables. The web-like grid is lined with scores of small, shiny flaps that move with the wind while reflecting light.

Officials said the work encourages an appreciation of science while adding to the aesthetic of the campus.

“We think it’s an opportunity to teach kids,” said Elaine Nesbit, project manager for the new science center at Crossroads. “You can’t see wind — you only see the result of the wind. So it quantifies what the wind is doing. It creates a wavy geometrical pattern that’s not often repeated.”

The new sculpture echoes the intersection of math and art that is also found in the sine wave that Michael Pestel designed for the campus in 1986.

Kahn met with architect Fred Fisher to discuss the prominent fixture, which hangs over the roof of the 12-sided pavilion.

Kahn has crafted sculptures around the world to highlight the power of natural forces. Since earning a degree in environmental studies from the University of Connecticut in 1982, he has secured a MacArthur Fellowship, been featured in museum exhibits and given numerous lectures.

Kahn’s works — which can be found at educational institutions, hospitals, ballparks, airports, hotels, museums, transit stations, government buildings and businesses — often explore one overarching theme.

“The confluence of science and art has fascinated me throughout my career,” reads a statement on his website. “I strive to create artworks that enable viewers to observe and interact with natural processes. I am less interested in creating an alternative reality than I am in capturing, through my art, the mysteriousness of the world around us.”

The sculpture that Kahn designed for Crossroads isn’t exclusively for the school — it can also be seen from certain vantage points on 20th Street and Olympic Boulevard.

But the educators and developers involved in the establishment of a new science complex hope it carries special significance for the students who see it on a daily basis.

“This is an amazing teaching tool,” Nesbit said. “Everywhere in the building, we tried to create teaching moments or moments of discovery.”

Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, jeff@www.smdp.com or on Twitter.

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