Windsor Columns

- Mississippi Art Museum -

The Assignment

In 2015, for the Welty Biennial Festival celebrating Mississippi author Edora Welty, Architect Tracy Ward was charged with the challenge of producing exact replicas of the storied columns of the Windsor Ruins. The Windsor Ruins are 23 freestanding columns which are all that remain of The Windsor Mansion, a Greek Revival antebellum plantation house decimated by a fire in 1890. These 43 ft high columns, composed of brick and finished with stucco, stand like defiant soldiers in what is now nothing but a barren a few miles from the banks of the Mississippi River. Ward’s assignment was to recreate three the columns in their present state of deterioration as a display to be placed on the grounds of the Mississippi Museum of Art. Given the size and condition of the columns, this project was way beyond the scope a typical column fabrication company would undertake. And, as is often the case on projects, both the budget and the timeline were strict.

The Collaboration

Tracy Ward contacted Danny at DMG knowing that the project would require sourcing from more than one fabricator in order to find one with the capability to take on such a complex assignment. Ward worked on the elaborate engineering process which began with 3D scanning the giant original columns to capture every crack and divot in the over 150-year old stucco, to map the exact texture of each exposed brick and to measure the precise dimensions of every inch of each of the three columns used in the replication. The scanner had to be lifted 46 feet up on a hydraulic tripod while unusually strong winds threatened to topple the tripod and scanner. Meanwhile, Danny brought the project with all its idiosyncrasies to every fabricator he has worked with within his career as well as theming companies and even Disney. 

The Solution

Danny eventually found the right company for the job and the months of drawings, clay sculpting and mold creation and parts casting began. They used a company that works predominantly in Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) a composition material which allowed the material to be flexible enough to provide the shaping necessary to accurately replicate the look of the columns along while providing the strength needed to ensure the 40’ high tubes of the columns could resist winds and weather. In fact, the structural support was developed using a process common in the aerospace industry. In addition, to erect the columns on-site, an anchoring and lifting system had to be developed and used with a crane. As said earlier, this was not a project for your average column fabricator.

The Result

In the end, the project was a complete success! With all the planning, collaboration, creativity and stress, the project came in, once again, on time and on budget. Everyone was elated, Ward, the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Festival director and the two state senators who secured the funding for the project!  For Danny, the collaboration that this project required and the heart and soul that went into it sets it apart as a true once-in-a-lifetime project. The faith placed in DMG by the architect was what Danny will remember most about this challenge. Client trust is hard-earned and immensely valued by Danny. It hardens his resolve to overperform for his clients on every project DMG undertakes.