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Tech Tower
Tech Tower at Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Georgia
About this creation
The second installment in my "University Buildings" series is Tech Tower from Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, GA. The idea for this building came from the fact that building monumental Lego strutcures seems to take a bit of money. I needed a backer. Well, really, I had the money, I just needed my wife to not complain. (Somthing about buying diapers and such for my newborn daughter.)

So, since I build a building from _my_ alma mater (, I decided to build one from hers. Well, when you have to pick one building from Georgia Tech, its pretty clear what building that has to be. Now my wife, Valerie, spent a great deal of time at the Manufacturing Related Disciplines Complex - (MRDC), and it is an interesting building, but it just doesn't have the history that Tech Tower does.

In fact, it is not only a historic building, its part of a whole "Historic District" in Atlanta:



Bruce and Morgan Architects 1888

"Let by a contract on May 5, 1887 to Angus McGilvray who bid $43,250 to construct this building designed by Bruce and Morgan, the old Academic Building was completed by 1888. This structure once housed Tech's Library, President's Office, Classrooms, and other academic facilities. It was remodeled in 1963-64 on the Interior with major alterations. It's best known feature is its 'Tower' with the word TECH emblazed on each of its four sides electrically lighted at night, making it a landmark in Atlanta."

"A good example of the work of the well-known Atlanta architectural firm of Bruce and Morgan, the present Georgia Tech Administration Building is the focal point of the Old Campus. Designed to serve as an 'Academic Building' this neo-Romanesque inspired Victorian red brick structure remains as one of the tallest buildings on the campus. Four stories high it appears taller due to the fact that not only is it sited on the highest elevation but it also has a seven-story-high central tower topped with a high pitched roof. The front facade of the Administration Building is representative of the general architectural composition of all the facades of this building. In mass, the front elevation is composed as a central four-story block with hipped roof and tall central tower that projects from the face of the building so as to create a porch on the main floor. ... In front of the cornice is suspended the large neon letters spelling out TECH which replaced earlier light bulb version installed in the 1920s. The tower is topped by a high pitched slate roof."

Tech Tower is also officially named the "Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Administration building" after the former Coca-Cola executive and philanthropist. Its a long name, but pretty much everyone calls it "Tech Tower"

"Lettie Evans was born in Bedford County, Virginia in 1872, and married Joseph Brown Whitehead in 1894. The couple lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee, until moving to Atlanta with their two sons in 1899. Mr. Whitehead, along with his business partner, Benjamin F. Thomas, conceived the idea of selling Coca-Cola in bottles, and was granted exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola. In 1906, Mr. Whitehead died of pneumonia, and his wife Lettie assumed command of the family's business interests, which included overseeing the expanding Coca-Cola bottling operations. In 1934, with the approval of prominent Atlanta businessmen, Mrs. Evans was appointed to the Board of the Coca-Cola Company, where she worked for almost twenty years. Throughout her life, Mrs. Evans loved to entertain, and she showed great concern for the welfare of others. She contributed to over one hundred thirty charities and was active in the organizations which interested her. After her death in 1953, Mrs. Evans left a bulk of her estate to the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation and designated many institutions of higher learning to receive a portion of her assets. Fifteen percent of these assets were designated to Georgia Tech. The endowment's value is in excess of $325 million. Georgia Tech will perpetually receive interest from this share; currently, that amounts to more than $3 million per year."

Now, a discussion of Tech Tower is not complete without a discussion of the famous "T." Like all colleges, Georgia Tech has many traditions. And nicely documented for us, is the History of the gold and white lettering adorning the tower:

"Perhaps the most famous of Tech's landmarks is the Tech Tower, home of the 'T.' It put the 'T' in T-book, once associated us with the name "Golden Tornadoes," and has stood as a figure in the campus consciousness. Actually, there are 4 letters (TECH), five feet tall and white and gold, on each side of the tower, but it's the 'T' on the side facing I-75 that has a worldwide reputation. As long as the letters have been up (most of the century), students have sought fame and glory in stealing them and leaving the ones they steal for the college president to find."

"The class of 1922, deciding during their freshman year that their contribution to the school should include a symbol that would "light the spirit of Tech to the four points of the compass," gave the tower its first TECH signs. The gold and white painted, wooden signs placed on alternating sides of the tower. Plans for today's standard metal frame letters and neon lights were introduced in 1949. The renovation fell around the Christmas holidays so for the only time in its history the gold and white letters were replaced with green and red ones."

"FYI -- If you want to get the tradition right, here's how to go about doing it:

Take the 'T' on the side facing the highway. If that's already gone, remove the T to the left and work around. When the T's are gone (it has happened), start taking the H's in the same manner. Then go for the E's, and finally the C's. To our knowledge, all of the letters have never been down at once, so that's something for entering freshmen to consider.

Once stolen, put the letter in a public location easily accessible to the President of the Institute."

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   The Tower itself.

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   A tradition at Tech is for students to steal the "T"

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   Me and my model.

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   The full front.

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   The side showing the semi-octagonal column.

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   At the back of Tech Tower is Junior's Grill. A landmark restaurant for Tech Students.

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   There is a delivery door at the back.

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   The first showing of Tech Tower was before the model was fully complete. Here, it is shown 2/3 complete.

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   Here I am, building the model. I first modelled it in LDraw (using MLCad). I used the output to buy the parts, then used the onscreen instructions to assemble it.

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   More construction/

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   Construction. The interior is white and gold. ;)

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   My wife, Valerie, a Tech alum and the model's benefactor, enjoys a look at the tower during construction.

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   The model itself breaks into three substructures, for transport. Also, the tower can be stored in the central building.

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   The MLCAD model. This one took a long time, and ended up being fairly weak structurally. I rebuilt it later using more interior bracing, but the exterior remains essentially the same.

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   Source photo, from Georgia Tech's website.

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   Another source photo from Georgia Tech's website.


 I like it 
  October 23, 2005
Great idea, and great execution. I have worked at a couple of colleges, and the idea has occurred to me to render a campus landmark building in Lego, but the effort would seem to be too great. You showed that it can be done!
 I like it 
  September 12, 2004
Very good likeness to the original building. I believe you succeded because the words "Romanesque" and/or "Victorian" popped into my head even before reading your description of the building. My only suggestion would be to try to purchase more red or white tiles to cover up some of the exposed Lego studs. Of course I have the same problem with my buildings!
 I like it 
  June 24, 2004
You included Junior's AND stealing the T! And its a nice model as well, I'd give you 10 stars if I could (but I might be partial to the theme)
By Alfred Speredelozzi
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Added June 24, 2004
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