Building the Diderot T Human Powered Crane /

The Diderot Crane in front of MassArt, Boston.

The Diderot Crane in front of MassArt, Boston.

The Diderot T crane, a 25 foot human-powered crane, was built by Mass College of Art’s Culture and Technology course in the spring of 2003. As a continuation of the original COF grant, the goal was to institutionalize the project in the curriculum. Fifteen students studied several human-powered cranes from the L’Encyclopedia of Denis Diderot from the 1700s. The students developed drawings and models and selected the T Crane to build full scale. In a four-day workshop in April 2003, the Culture and Technology class constructed the individual parts at Handshouse Studio in Norwell. On May 2, the Diderot T Crane was assembled in front of the Mass College of Art Tower building on Huntington Ave in Boston. This crane is exhibited in conjunction with the Perronet Crane installed on the other side of Huntington Ave in front of the Wentworth Institute of Technology Dormitory.

Professor Rick Brown taught the course and directed the Diderot T Crane workshop and installation. Mass College of Art students again worked closely with timber framers from the Timber Framers Guild to construct the T Crane at the Handshouse Studio workshop.

HIstoric cranes depicted in paintings and etchings

The Diderot crane was made possible through the broad vision of the Colleges of the Fenway who consistently supported the crane projects and the Davis Foundation Grant that funded the projects and the classes. The drawings, models, and research gathered by the participating students of the Diderot crane project were exhibited in the lobby of the Artist’s Residence at Mass College of Art on Huntington Ave.

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