A walk around the lake or trip to the dining hall reveals a new addition to Furman's campus — to the keenly observant passerby, that is! Directly adjacent to the bridge that sits over one of the streams leading into Furman Lake there hides a small, colorful bridge. Make no mistake, it is not a pedestrian bridge; rather, it is a small sculpture/bridge made out of K’NEX (said like connects) toys.
Many of us might remember having similar building block type toys as we were growing up, but this bridge certainly goes beyond anything I built as a young girl. The current bridge is actually the second construction to dominate the little spillway leading to the lake, as the first installation of the bridge was demolished during a flood in October. Modeled after the Bourne Bridge in Bourne, Massachusetts — famously one of only two car-friendly bridges that connect mainland Massachusetts with Cape Cod — the structure is Furman’s own little architectural feat. But why is the bridge there, and who is the mastermind who built it?
Seeking answers, I finally identified the creator of this constructional feat: Isaiah Ives, a Furman junior. Isaiah is a Massachusetts native, and thus very familiar with the Bourne Bridge. Curious to learn more, I was able to observe Isaiah at work as he added the finishing touches to the bridge and ask him a few questions.
Why did you build this bridge and why out of this material?
I love bridges! Oftentimes I find myself researching bridges on my own time. K’NEX are a lot of fun; they are like Legos. I build with them because they are great for structural building and create really neat curves. Ever since I was little, I’ve built structures out of K’NEX. One day, I wondered if I could make the Bourne Bridge with K’NEX. I tried, and sure enough, I made it. I move on from project to project, but bridges are always the center piece. So now I have this.
Why did you put the bridge here?
I walk around the lake like many other Furman students and I noticed plenty of spots to put a bridge. At home, I don’t have bodies of water to build over like I have here. I’ve always had [a] spot in mind by the back of the lake, but that didn’t work out so I moved it here. The first run was an experiment, I wanted to see how long it would last. A flash flood came along and washed it away. In spite of this set back, I was determined to put it back.
What do you hope people get out of this bridge?
It’s a unique thing. I have a lot of ideas that many other people don’t think of. It is hard for people to understand my vision until it’s done, and the bridge is one of those cases. Furman didn’t understand my idea either until it was complete. Then, they liked it and thought it was a good idea. Lots of people seem to enjoy it too. It is a strange, but unique, structure people don’t expect. I hope people realize you don’t have to get a degree to enjoy doing something. You don’t need to seek other people’s approval to do something you want. It raised a lot of eyebrows, but people now enjoy it. Enjoy it for what it is and go for any ideas you might have!
Isaiah received help and guidance from several Furman staff to complete this project. Now, this colorful, almost out of place structure sits perfectly constructed right near the lake, catching the eyes of walkers daily! However, the bridge represents so much more than just a fun project. In turning a childhood passion into something for the general public to stop and marvel at, Isaiah reminded us all that Furman is full of wonderfully creative students always chasing their passions, even those outside of their declared major. So next time you’re walking around the lake or on your way to the DH, stop and check out the bridge, and the next time you have a fun and perhaps “out there” idea, do it! You never know what you could accomplish.