Giant, Iconic Statue to Loom Over Sheffield, England

Steel Sheets

“Man of Steel” is a project by the sculptor Steve Mehdi, a former steelworker himself. When completed, it will stand 104-feet tall, as an iconic tribute to the British coal and steel city of Sheffield. Landmark structures in this once-industrial capital have been removed over the years and have been replaced by new businesses such as Hascall Steel Company. The historic landscape prompted this former Sheffield steel worker to build a new, lasting replacement.

He’ll need a “Heart of Steel” for this one

Mehdi made stainless steel his material of choice, in recognition of Sheffield’s development of groundbreaking material in the early twentieth century. In his hands, he can cast, roll, wrap around, and shape the metallic fabric. It will not be an easy feat. The artist seems to be working with more steel than he ever did as a steel laborer. Also in his hands is a 3-tonne “Heart of Steel” which will sit inside the sculpture when completed.

Old steel, new tech

This project is employing the latest in industrial technology including CGI-imaging as well as 3D-scanning and printing. The artist’s engineering and technical partners are giving him a hand. John Halfpenny of the Advanced Manufacturing Research at Sheffield University made 3D scans of his smaller original sculpture to print a 2-meter-high model, complete with a steel finish. At the same time, Newburgh Engineering tested ways on how to build the actual statue. They created a 1-meter-high model by attaching steel plates around a steel monocoque to form its shape and muscles.

With city landscapes competing to rise higher across the globe, the future of today’s steel industry is stronger than ever. Now perhaps, the men and women who run its blast furnaces and steel coil manufacturing yards too will have something solid to look forward to.