New campus pod structures will provide a break from 'the hustle of the day'

  • New "pod" structures are being built and installed in three locations on campus.
  • These pods are not only art, but spots where people can join together and relax or socialize.
  • Love Locks Pod is the first to be installed, east of the Food Truck Plaza, and anyone is invited to permanently place a customized lock on the structure.

Anyone who has been east of the Food Truck Plaza on campus has probably seen a large, slightly egg-shaped structure being installed. That is what’s known as a pod, and it’s part of the new place-making initiative at Wichita State inviting students, employees and community members to “linger longer” on campus.

This pod is named Love Locks Pod and is the first in a series of Shocker Pods that will be constructed and installed this spring. Love Locks Pod is being installed this week and will be celebrated as WSU’s newest art installation from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14.

The pods are the brainchild of Brady Hatter, a Shocker alumnus, sculpture artist and trades supervisor in WSU’s carpentry shop. Hatter designed and is building the pod structures. Follow him on Instagram at @bugmeat_macaroni to see videos of his process.

Rowing students with pod Alyssa Calbert

Members of WSU's rowing team helped with the installation of the Love Locks Pod.

Hatter’s vision for Love Locks Pod is similar to that of other structures throughout the world where locks are festooned on a structure, as seen in Paris with its many bridges. Anyone from WSU or the community will be invited to put their own lock on the pod to honor anything from the person they’re in love with to a celebration of a big achievement, such as graduation or getting a job.

“My hope is that this pod will be a site on campus where you memorialize anything worth celebrating -- graduation, celebrations, progress, engagement, victories or the one you love,” says Ty Tabing, a consultant working with WSU on its place-making initiative.

Visitors are encouraged to customize their locks with engraving or permanent marker and to add their own lock to the structure at any time. They can buy locks at the nearby Shocker Store in Braeburn Square or bring their own. Hatter hopes to eventually have a pod full of brightly colored and diverse locks.

This and the other two pods will provide a unique visual identity, as well as provide recreational spaces that people may use to lounge, relax and enjoy campus. They will be strategically placed to encourage exploration and walkability on campus.

The pod forms will be constructed out of half-inch smooth steel rods, which are then bent into curves and interlocked in a twisting pattern that reach of a peak of 16 feet tall. The structures will be 8 feet in diameter where they meet the ground, creating an interactive space below in which students, faculty and members of the community can lounge inside of the structures.

The pods will also feature different visual effects. Along with the Love Locks Pod, there will be a “floral pod” near the Woodman Alumni Center and a “Shocker Pod” between The Flats buildings.

The pods will create an inviting and picturesque environment that connects the space between the Experiential Engineering Building and Braeburn Square, known as the East Mall Walk.

“These structures will become beacons of light,” says Hatter. “With seating for six and a table within, they will become destinations for a late-night summer board games. The pods will become a circle of friends looking each other in the eyes as they discuss their futures. They will offer an escape from the hustle of the day.”

The pods are part of a bigger plan to establish Braeburn Square as a new “port of entry” for students, employees and community members to experience the rest of campus.

Locations of the structures will be placed between the Experiential Engineering Plaza and Braeburn Square and will be marked out with signage indicating their location, identity and directions.

Every place-making project on campus so far has an applied learning component that has integrated several parts of WSU, including entomology, botany, the College of Fine Arts and WSU’s ShiftSpace gallery. Hatter has hired a fine arts graduate student as an apprentice for the pods project, and Tabing hopes to find other hands-on experience for additional students moving forward.