Credit: Norbert Schoerner

by Thomas Heatherwick, commisioned for the Wellcome Trust's new Gibbs Building in London.

As one of the world's biggest funders of biomedical science, the Wellcome Trust can usually gather scientists to a party like honey attracts bees. But researchers were strangely lacking from a recent bash in the atrium of the Trust's swank new Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, London.

Those who were present were there to celebrate a major new sculpture designed especially for the building's cavernous atrium by the artist Thomas Heatherwick. "Bleigiessen" (which means lead-pouring in German) is a staggering assemblage of 142,000 shimmering glass spheres suspended over a height of 7 stories on 840 kilometers of wire.

The beads are arranged to mimic the form taken by molten lead when dropped in water. The piece is supposed to be a powerful reminder of the Trust's growing dedication to fostering work that takes...

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