The Benchmark sculpture
Northern Arizona University Art Professor Jim O'Hara and students in his architectural sculpture class designed and installed The Benchmark sculpture in 1983 and 1984. It is sometimes referred to as "french fries" or "icicles" by students. The artist crafted the three forty-foot high pillars from recycled fabricated aluminum sheets. Steel tubes inside the columns once vented exhaust emanating from the gun range located in the basement of the du Bois center.
O'Hara created the wave- shaped sculpture to demonstrate the workings of nature. The blue, red, and yellow lights show the heat oxidation spectrum. At times The Benchmark reflects the blue from the sky and seems transparent. Depending on the weather conditions, the sculpture also appears to be flowing water or ice.