Final Bamboo Sculpture Takes Flight at the Future Gregg Museum of Art & Design

NC State professor of horticultural science Will Hooker to install student-built ephemeral bamboo sculpture at the future site of the Gregg Museum of Art & Design.

Project Photos and Video:

Sketch of original design

The original sketch of the bamboo sculpture.

Will Hooker, a professor in the NC State University Department of Horticultural Science, will retire in December after 34 1/2 years of service to the University. A key component of Hooker’s teaching methodology for the last 20 years has been a small-scale landscape design studio in which students design and build an ephemeral landscape sculpture using bamboo harvested from a local grove in Durham.

Hooker’s final student-team sculpture was installed on the NC State University campus at the historic chancellor’s residence at 1903 Hillsborough Street. The site is the future home of the NC State Gregg Museum of Art & Design.

photo of student spraying wings with red paint

Students spray-paint the wings of the phoenix.

The sculpture is a brightly painted red, yellow, orange and blue phoenix launching into flight with a ribbon of bamboo swirling behind. The creation spans 18 feet and creates an arch over the brick path leading to the front entrance of the historic residence. The arch was built on-site, while the phoenix component was built at Kilgore Hall and paraded down Hillsborough Street on the top of Professor Hooker’s wildly painted pickup truck.

Photo of student Michelle Ye

Michelle Ye designed the phoenix part of the sculpture.

Student Michelle Ye designed the phoenix, and classmate Ben Jones designed the ribboned arch. Ye said her design represents the metamorphosis that the Gregg museum is undergoing as it transitions from its former home in the Talley Student Center to its future home at the historic chancellor’s residence at 1903 Hillsborough Street.

Gregg Museum director Roger Manley agreed the phoenix was a fitting symbolic and artistic representation of the museum’s future. Alex Miller, vice provost for ARTS NC STATE in the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, said, “The design is wonderful, and it will ensure ongoing, vibrant interest in the work itself, as well as encouraging curiosity about the site and its future.”

photo of finished work

The creation spans 18 feet and creates an archway over the brick walking path leading to the front entrance of the historic chancellor’s residence.

Hooker said it’s the perfect fit to install landscape art on the future grounds of an art museum and to wrap up a long-standing tradition of student design-build projects by installing the last piece of work at “home,” on the university’s campus.

The studio class project aimed to teach students both building techniques and life skills. Hooker’s process taught students to know their materials, to understand  the materials’ connection to the earth and to each other, and to be familiar with techniques for finishing the materials. In addition to learning how to use power tools, hand saws and bamboo splitters, students learned critical lessons such as how to plan the phases of a project, meet a tight budget and timeline, maintain quality control and work on a team.

The sculpture is expected to last one to two years. Hooker has installed other ephemeral bamboo sculptures across the state, the most recent being a nine-foot-tall Asian dragon at the JC Raulston Arboretum.

View more photos and video of the project:


The Gregg Museum of Art & Design is NC State University’s collecting museum containing over 30,000 objects. The Gregg is dedicated to interpreting and exhibiting exemplary hand and machine-made objects to foster learning and understanding of the cultures of North Carolina and the world.

The Gregg closed its doors in the Talley Student Center in May 2013 in anticipation of moving to its permanent home at the site of the historic chancellor’s residence at 1903 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. The future Gregg Museum will be visible and accessible to NC State students and to the general public.

Moreover, the museum will serve as a gateway to NC State’s campus and will create an arts precinct with adjacent Pullen Arts Center and Theatre in the Park. The historic chancellor’s residence, the contemporary addition, and the surrounding gardens of the new Gregg will enable the museum to serve students and the general public with myriad exhibitions and education and public programs.

More information: 


News & Observer – ‘Sculpture Takes Flight at NC State’

NC State Bulletin – ‘Dragon Brings Landscape to Life’


Professor Will Hooker
Mobile: 919-559-2538
Office: 919-515-7747

Jill Powell, Director of Arts Marketing
Mobile: 919-923-3047