The Babson College Globe has loomed large at the Wellesley business school since 1950, but for decades the 25-ton, 28ft-diameter sphere has been tucked away on a part of campus seldom visited by outsiders. When the idea took hold of creating a park to serve as a centerpiece along the main road of the college, the entrepreneurial school started to think outside the sphere. Their decision would reverberate in a global way.
In a move of incredible chutzpah, Babson actually moved the world. Not only that, they solved all the planet’s major problems. It wasn’t spinning on its axis properly, so they bought Earth some shiny new orbiting equipment. Next, Babson put the round globe in a square structure to keep it warm over the winter (what could go wrong there?). Finally, you know that old saying, “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it.”? Such a defeatist attitude means nothing to Babson College. That’s right. They painted the world.
The globe is about to go from hidden gem to iconic landmark as work nears completion on Kerry Murphy Healey Park, a campus centerpiece slated to debut this spring in celebration of the school’s 100th birthday. The park, funded through millions of dollars in donations, will honor outgoing Babson President Healey, the school’s first female president, and former Massachusetts lieutenant governor.
I got a sneak peek inside the iconic campus landmark as work on the globe nears completion. This was the most fun Wellesley sneak peek story I’ve ever done (there Mr. Swellesley, we’re now even on that Sprague Memorial Clock Tower visit you had).
Come fly around the world with me.
We’re going in to see how the work crew is doing on the year-long refurbishment of the Babson College Globe.
This site visit so exceeded my expectations. I totally believe in dangerous climbs and was 100% game to go straight up, no net, no ropes. It was just me versus the close equivalent of El Capitan. I am so Free Solo. Nice photobomb, dude.
Left to right: Artists Josh Falk and Dana Woulfe from Boston-based Studio Fresh did the painting. David Grissino, Wellesley resident and Babson’s Director of Capital Projects and Planning, was my tour guide. Grissino has been very busy, indeed. Healey park is just the latest major campus transformation in the past five years. Others include the in-progress sports/recreation complex renovation, the library, and a new innovation hub.
In the 1980s, the Babson College Globe barely avoided the wrecking ball after falling into disrepair. At one point covered in enamel tiles, the globe underwent a facelift in the early 1990s and Babson rededicated it in 1993 with fresh vinyl tiles and new satellite imagery.
The Babson Globe itself has been around since 1955 and the 28-feet-in-diameter sphere is one of the largest of its kind.
Studio Fresh has restored the colorful surface of the Globe. Decades of exposure to the elements had left the surface faded, and the paint had peeled away in sections.
There’s the United States. Wellesley is in there just a bit east of the Grand Canyon. To get the Globe across campus, in February 2019 it was eased up onto a flatbed truck and gently transported to its new permanent home at the work-in-progress Healey Park, slated for opening this spring.
This is just one gear that will help make the Globe spin, something it hasn’t done since the early 1990s. In true Babson style, the college will have the power to make the world spin fast or slow. Should we be nervous? In all, the mechanics in the base weigh 22 tons.
The globe, artists, and workers have been sheltered all winter. When the park is complete, there will be over 100 trees of various sizes and types in a natural-type landscape. The goal is for the park to be a gathering place for students and campus visitors. The park will It will also boast a statue of school founder Roger Babson as well as a reworked edition of the Fountain of Flags, previously in place in front of the Horn Library. Space has been made so that all 100 flags will fly, representing the home countries of the extensive international student body. The Fountain of Flags had room for less than half that number, leaving someone with the unofficial job of “flag swapper” every now and then.
Former base for the Babson Globe, Coleman Hall.
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