A New Musical Instrument Towers 128 Feet over Indiana University

indiana university presents it’s monumental ‘grand carillon,’ a towering musical instrument that houses 65 bells and rises 128-feet. the enormous limestone structure was completed in january 2020 to celebrate the institution’s bicentennial, replacing the university’s original ‘metz carillon.’ built in 1970, the former carillon measured 91-feet in height, housed 61 bells, and stood as one of only 600 carillons worldwide. the new metz bicentennial ‘grand carillon’ marks the intersection of music, landscape, history, and student life, creating a focal point and a place of gathering on campus.

indiana university’s ‘arthur metz bicentennial grand carillon’ is designed by susan t. rodriguez architecture and design, in collaboration with browning day mullins dierdorf. the previous 1970s-era design was situated near a major road and overpass, which made it difficult to host many concerts. the new, more centralized location recasts the landscape as an outdoor concert hall with the grand carillon as its centerpiece. the tower lies at a crossroads of campus movement and is framed by gates of the historic stadium.

the radial configuration of the grand carillon at indiana university is defined by six structural limestone piers. a series of smaller vertical fins completes the framework of the structure above. horizontal steel hubs visually and structurally unify the tower and provide lateral bracing. the overall ensemble, a modular kit of parts, supports the instrument — bass, playing cabin, and 65 bells weighing approximately 88,000 pounds. a spiral staircase within the glass enclosure provides access to the console and micro classroom for the carillonneur, students and faculty from the jacobs school of music. the tower’s structure serves as a ‘hotspot,’ providing access to the internet from the surrounding landscape.

the grand carillon at indiana university houses 65 musical bells crafted by royal eijsbouts bell foundry in the netherlands. the new bells feature quotes from four women — the 6th century B.C. greek poet sappho; the 12th century german benedictine abbess, composer, and polymath hildegard of bingen; american poet emily dickinson; and the writer, poet, and civil rights activist maya angelou. music from the 128-foot tall instrument reverberates across campus, establishing the carillon as a campus beacon. the carillon rang for the first time on the bicentennial of the university’s founding, january 20th, 2020.

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