George Hart at MIT
a collaboration between MIT and sculptor/mathematician George Hart
Salamanders Sculpture
For his artist-in-residence at MIT, George Hart designed Salamanders, a symmetric spherical composition of 30 identical flat pieces in the shape of salamanders. In its final form, the pieces are laser-cut birch plywood. These pieces were group assembled by a group of around 40 people from the MIT community. The sculpture is almost 30 inches in diameter and weighs about 15 pounds.

Final wood sculpture

Computer model


The sculpture belongs to the CSAIL Collection, and will eventually be showcased in the new Stata Center starting in January 2003 when it will house CSAIL and other labs.

The sculpture was initially designed on a computer to verify that the pieces did not interpenetrate. Hart's paper on sculpture from symmetrically arranged planar components describes his tool for designing these types of sculptures.


Before the final sculpture, several prototypes were built to see how it could be assembled. The model was first sent to a 3D rapid prototyping machine to see how it looked in reality. If you have a 3D rapid prototyping machine, you can build your own using this STL file.

3D rapid prototype

Acrylic prototype

Hart then built a 7-inch laser-cut acrylic prototype to test that it could be assembled from rigid material. Even at this scale, assembly took hours.


For the barnraising, we cut thousands of salamanders from card stock to let partipants experiment with assembly and get a feel for the 3D form.

If you want to make your own paper model, print and cut out five copies of this PDF file.

Good luck assembling!

See also George Hart's page about the Salamanders sculpture.

Paper prototype



Massachusetts Institute
of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139