The bottom level, seven blocks form an incomplete square more than 19 feet on its two complete sides, nestled into a hillock. The next level, 12 of them form a square on top, 17 feet, 2 inches long. Then 16 blocks make a square just over 14 feet per side. On the uppermost level, the 12 blocks make an 11-foot square. It weighs more than three tons, all told.
Students frequently use the sculpture as a place to stop and sit between classes, one of UNLV’s outdoor spaces that double as impromptu study halls.
It may be the biggest piece of public art to come out of the class, but it isn’t the only one. The class has also been responsible for the decorated electrical boxes that can be seen along Maryland Parkway. They also created the “Big V” on the front window of the Flora Dungan Humanities building, which cast the lobby in a kind of stained-glass glow until it was removed.
After a brief hiatus, Rafat will be offering the class again in the fall. When subtle, but noticeable improvements come to campus, you may very well have Rafat and a collection of students from disparate backgrounds to thank.
“The important thing is function, and beauty comes out of that. If you moved the object from here to here, it lost its meaning,” Rafat said. “It has to be site-related. All the clues come from the actual environment. They keep thinking the idea of the art is that you make this little watercolor and you put it on top of the fireplace. That's not what I do. I do something quite different. This wasn't put a couple of paintings up. Eveyrthing there is to know about this we want to design. The trees, the rocks, the path, the materials. Every inch of it. If a bird is going to fly by, I want to know what that bird is.”