Phoenix sculpture installed outside Schar Center

The bronze and concrete sculpture was created by Burlington native Ed Walker with Carolina Bronze Sculpture of Seagrove.

A new phoenix landed on Elon’s campus on Monday and will now greet visitors to the university’s Schar Center when the 5,100-seat facility opens later this year. 

Crafted by Burlington native Ed Walker of Carolina Bronze Sculpture in Seagrove, the sculpture features a bronze phoenix rising from a concrete column of fire. 

Walker said he researched the mythology behind the phoenix and viewed countless renditions while designing his interpretation of the creature that serves as Elon’s mascot. Walker said he wanted the sculpture to be “intense but not aggressive,” and he shied away from cartoonish interpretations of the phoenix. 

“I wanted it to be believable as a bird,” Walker said. 

The concrete base that resembles a twist of flames weighed in at more than 3,400 pounds. The interior of the bronze phoenix, which weighs about 900 pounds, was extensively engineered by LHC Engineering of Raleigh to ensure that the sculpture is sturdy, Walker said. 

A rough model of the design was followed by a two-foot-tall version with more detail. Plans for the final version to be cast were generated by a 3D scanning software, with those plans then used to carve out a full-sized urethane model. Wax casting was followed by bronze casting to finalize the sculpture. 

Once assembled, the sculpture is about 12-feet tall, with the phoenix boasting a 10-foot wing span. 

The Schar Center will serve as a venue for convocations, speakers and other major campus events. It will also be the new home court for Elon’s basketball and volleyball teams, with triple the space of Alumni Memorial Gymnasium, and include a practice facility with two full courts, hospitality room, club-level seating and high-definition video boards. The facility is scheduled to open in fall 2018.

Sculptor Ed Walker with Carolina Bronze Sculpture assists with the installation of the new phoenix sculpture outside the Schar Center. 
Alumni, parents and friends can follow the Schar Center progress at its website — — which includes the latest photos and news of the facility, as well as renderings, a construction cam and photos from past project milestones.

Visitors to the website can take a look inside and outside the Schar Center with fly-through videos. In addition, an interactive construction cam allows viewers to scroll back through construction photos and provides a time-lapse feature so viewers can watch the center take shape.

The facility is named for Elon parents Dwight and Martha Schar of Palm Beach, Fla., who are among Elon’s most generous donors and whose $13 million in gifts to the university provided lead funding for the convocation center and the expanded School of Communications.