Each of the 21 high-relief ceramic tiles is approximately 32” high by 10” wide. Their purpose is to add humanity and warmth to a monumental structure and to send out a quiet announcement that the Cohon University Center is for all to use and enjoy. Mannino’s main objective has been to add a human element, both visual and conceptual, to the exterior of the CUC.
The content of each tile is a three-dimensional representation of individual hand gestures developed through intensive collaboration between Mannino and each of his subjects. As the CUC is meant to embrace and serve all components of the campus community, the project involved the participation of a cross-section of individual members of that community as models for the figurative reliefs. Students, faculty members, administrators, staff members, and alumni are all represented by their various activities and gestures. Through this anonymous yet highly personal form of depiction, the multiplicity of the university community is represented. The gesturing hands also serve as an invitation—a beckoning—for all to enter.
The "Hands" speak
Ann Curran, Carnegie Mellon Magazine, Vol. 17 No. 3, Spring 1999
- "It's kind of nice to have had the chance to leave my 'mark' on Carnegie Mellon in some way. Perhaps the magic of some of the other tiles (from Nobel laureate Herbert Simon to former President Mehrabian) will fortuitously touch me in some way during my Fulbright in Canada" -Gil Alterovitz E-98
- "Mark [Kamlet] and I were delighted that Joe asked us to lend him our hands for his University Center project. Carnegie Mellon has been such an important part of our lives. We met here, have spent most of our adult lives here, and have made invaluable friendships with colleagues and students. We feet privileged to be a part of the university's brick, mortar and art, and hope that our hands—through Joe's art—show the human qualities of this institution." -Charlee M. Brodsky, Associate Professor, School of Design
- "I have always been a hands-on kind of guy at the university. It seems appropriate that my hand's on the University Center." -Lawrence G. Cartwright E'76, Senior Lecturer, Lab Director, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
- "The University Center has been an enormously important addition to the campus, and Joe Mannino's highly creative sculptures have greatly enhanced the Center. I am privileged just to be a tiny part of Joe's creation." -Paul P. Christiano E'64, Provost
- "I feel like applauding, but my hands have turned to stone." -Ann Curran HA'68, Editor, Carnegie Mellon Magazine
- "Charlee [Brodsky] and I are quite pleased that, in our own small way, our hands could help symbolize one of the many ways in which people now, in the past, and in the future help build Carnegie Mellon. It is also going to make for a great trivia question in the years ahead!" -Mark S. Kamlet, Dean of Heinz School
- "When Joe asked me to be part of his project, I was so honored. I had only been working at Carnegie Mellon for five years and couldn't imagine having my hand be part of the University Center. I think the University Center has been a well-needed addition to campus life. For me, the learning that happens outside the classroom is just as important as what happens in the classroom, and thus it is very exciting for me to be part of the building where most of the 'outside classroom learning' occurs." -Rebecca J. Lombardi, Associate Director, Admissions
- "Andy put his heart into the work. I and many others put some hands in. Now if someone will donate legs, lungs, and a few other spare parts, we'll be on our way into Carnegie Mellon's second century." -Herbert A. Simon, University Professor, Psychology Department
- "I am proud to have played a part in the creation of the University Center, so it is very satisfying to be literally part of the building." -Paul J. Tellers, University Architect
- "After [my] tile was finished and installed, I began to realize part of me had become a permanent part of Carnegie Mellon. I felt a very special personal connection to the piece that was simultaneously very private and yet very public." -James A Thurman A'93