Moving anything that weighs 25 tons is no easy feat, let alone a sphere with a 28-foot diameter. But in preparation for next year’s Centennial celebration, Babson moved its iconic Globe from outside of Coleman Hall to a temporary home in Trim parking lot.
As part of its restoration, the Globe eventually will be relocated to a more significant position on campus: Centennial Park, which is currently under construction. The park and restoration project are being funded by the generosity of trustee Robert Weissman ’64, H’94, P’87, ’90, and his wife, Jan, P’87, ’90. Centennial Park will be on College Drive, across from Hollister Hall and the Reynolds Campus Center, and the Globe, along with flags that represent the 80-plus countries with ties to Babson, will serve as its centerpiece.
President Kerry Healey had a vision for bringing these two symbols of Babson’s global presence and diversity into one central location, says David Grissino, director of capital projects and planning at Babson. “This will put the Globe in a much more prominent place on campus, so it becomes part of everyday life for students, visitors, faculty, and staff,” he says.
Founder Roger Babson commissioned the Globe in 1947 to stimulate interest in the world among students and visitors. Dedicated in 1955, it was positioned next to Coleman Hall to create what was then known as The Map and Globe Museum, with Coleman housing a 65-foot plaster relief map of the contiguous 48 states (removed in 1998). The intention was to enclose the Globe to protect its structure and mechanics, but this never came to pass. Nonetheless, the Globe, which used to spin and rotate, drew thousands of visitors to campus. Exposed to weather, however, it eventually began to degrade. By the 1980s, the Globe had rusted and failed. Although restored in the early 1990s, it has since deteriorated again.
Babson’s pending Centennial and the multiple construction projects transforming campus spurred the idea for Centennial Park, says Grissino, who adds that before the Globe can be restored fully, it must be moved to its new location. The Globe has two main components, he explains: the physical structure of the globe, and the mechanics that sit underneath it in a bunker. Ideally, during next winter the bunker will be constructed and the mechanics restored, and then the Globe will be put in place. Next would come restoring the Globe’s surface, during which the project would be enclosed to create a temperature-controlled environment.
Plans include making the Globe spin again and improving on its original design to allow for exposure to the elements. “In the last restoration, a vinyl sheet was applied to the surface of the Globe, and the ravages of time and solar exposure caused it to fade,” Grissino says. “So we’re working with a company that specializes in exterior painting. If we paint directly on the Globe, it gives us a lot more flexibility to do repairs. We wouldn’t be in a repeated maintenance cycle, which would be costly and disruptive.”
If all goes according to plan, the Globe and Centennial Park, which also will include a life-size bronze statue of Roger Babson and markers celebrating the College’s 100-year history, will be ready for visitors next spring. Meeting this goal means overcoming huge challenges and tight deadlines, but the team behind Centennial Park is not daunted. “The Globe is a unique object, and this is also a unique time in the school’s history. It’s meaningful to a lot of people that we’re part of a trajectory here as the campus celebrates,” Grissino says. He adds: “We’re moving the world.”—Donna Coco