As several big construction projects continue across the campus, a timely project is quietly being constructed on the lawn of the Walsh Performing Arts Center.
Sitting in the middle of a decorative, Horned Frog themed stone compass is a large plywood box. The mysterious box encases TCU’s latest monument—a sundial.
Hand-constructed by William Andrewes, an horologist from England, TCU’s sundial is special.
It’s so special that TCU officials said in an email “no further specific information about TCU’s sundial can be released, or discussed, prior to the dedication date.” However, the project description remains buried on the physical plant’s website.
Andrewes’ website, explains his patented “longitudinal” sundial is different from ancient sundials and “marries the classical elegance of the mid-1700s in its design with the latest developments of modern technology in its construction and accuracy.”
On the dial is a world map centered on the coordinates of TCU. The time scale circling the map is created specifically for this location. Therefore, the sundial will not work anywhere else in the world, Andrewes said in an interview with Hodinkee, an online timepiece magazine.
A wire, or “gnomon,” runs from the North Pole on the map to the top of the post on the edge of the dial. The dial is installed so the gnomon points to Polaris, the North Star.
The shadow is cast across the map and time scale. The shadow on the map indicates the time of noon at that point. The shadow on the time scale indicates local time to the nearest minute.
Additionally, a bead is centered along the gnomon. The bead’s shadow indicates on the map “where the sun is directly overhead.” The dial is engraved with the Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, and the equator. During the solstices and equinoxes, the bead will follow the appropriate line.
The dial can be personalized with dates, such as birthdays and anniversaries, for the bead to follow. Whether TCU’s sundial is personalized is unknown until the unveiling.
As of 2013, only 19 longitudinal sundials were completed or under construction worldwide. The TCU sundial is Andrewes’ 20th.
The sundial will sit on top of a three-foot tall, four-foot wide, seven-sided pedestal, according to the physical plant website.
The cost of the sundial has not been disclosed, but Andrewes’ website states that monumental dials start at $50,000.
A dedication ceremony is scheduled for May 5.