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"Tree of Success" at Fox Valley Technical College

Eppstein Uhen Architects, Inc.

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Harrison Horan, Banker Wire

Project Name

"Tree of Success" at Fox Valley Technical College

Project Status


Year Completed



Fox Valley Technical College

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Project Description

Creativity. Vision. Inspiration. Those words – and many others – hang from Banker Wire mesh on the “Tree of Success” sculpture at Fox Valley Technical College. They not only reflect the characteristics that FVTC students associate with personal success, but also describe the design process of the unique sculpture. The Tree of Success resulted from a collaborative effort between students at FVTC, architects, contractors and Banker Wire.

The Tree of Success will be a focal point of FVTC’s new Student Success Center, which will open in August. The student center, at FVTC’s Appleton, Wisconsin, campus, provides additional service space to meet increased needs for supplemental instruction, tutoring and academic support, with the goal of helping more students become work ready. The tree sculpture represents the educational journey and end goal of those programs: personal growth and success.

Fox Valley Technical College wanted a large-scale sculpture to place behind the concierge desk of the new Student Success Center. To encourage students to visit the desk, the sculpture needed to stand out beneath a large skylight in the two-story space. Designers and architects created a sculpture of a large tree. Students in FVTC’s Wood Manufacturing Technology program designed and built its stump with the wood from a large oak tree removed during the center’s construction, and Banker Wire mesh forms its foliage.

Eppstein Uhen Architects Inc. specified Banker Wire’s I-188 weave to recreate the appearance of the greenery on a thriving tree. The undulations on this intercrimp weave mirror the natural structure of tree branches. This versatile metal fabric, which can be woven from a huge variety of alloys, was woven in copper for the Tree of Success. The natural patina of the copper mesh was chemically accelerated to a green color, further evoking the leaves on trees.

"The Banker Wire product specified allowed EUA to metaphorically recreate the 'foliage' of a thriving tree and create a sculpture that will stir interest from afar and draw individuals to the information desk,” says Jeremy Hackbart, project architect at Eppstein-Uhen Architects, Milwaukee.

The I-188 metal mesh is a very open weave – with a 79.8 percent open area. Its openness allows the intricate stonework behind the sculpture to show through – instead of being completely obscured. Most importantly, the woven wire mesh is a perfect canvas on which to hang the Tree of Success’ “leaves.” Fox Valley Technical College invited students to describe success in one word. Their words became the “leaves” of tree, which were hung from the woven wire mesh. Thanks to the Banker Wire mesh, the leaves can be moved or changed as the college evolves – allowing the tree to serve as a metaphor for its continued growth.

“We were happy with the outcome of this project, and, most importantly, our customer was, too,” says Tony Cole of Custom Metals, Inc., the fabricator of the sculpture.

The Tree of Success was completed in April 2014, and the new Student Success Center will open in August. The project team includes Eppstein Uhen Architects, Inc., general contractor Miron Construction, Milwaukee, and fabricator Custom Metals, Inc., Madison, WI.
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