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The Susan and John Sykes Ars Sonora

Reflecting UT’s Mission and Values

The University of Tampa will soon be home to the largest Ars Sonora® in the world and the first of its kind in the U.S. This grand musical sculpture will soar over 105 feet in the center of campus next to the Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values and is made possible by the generosity of Susan and John Sykes. The sculpture will reflect the importance of character and values, interfaith understanding and cultural literacy — all core tenets of the chapel and center, and indeed, for the University as a whole.

The sculpture will form a striking focal point as part of a park-like plaza for students to reflect, gather and interact. The landscaped plaza will become a new venue for outdoor University events, and state-of-the-art lighting will allow the area to be used at night as well as during the day.

This sophisticated musical instrument is adorned with 63 hand-crafted bronze bells (which include two ornamental bells). The Ars Sonora will be a unique addition to UT’s music program and will be featured in outdoor concerts that will enrich the University and Tampa Bay community.

Completion of the Ars Sonora is tentatively expected in 2022.

~ Ars Sonora® is a registered trademark of the Paccard Bell Foundry.


A Musical Experience

Ars Sonora from above

In the Ars Sonora concept, the bells are electronically connected to a sensitive piano keyboard. Each key controls a dynamic striker on a particular bell, allowing musicians to play the Ars Sonora with all the nuance and emotion an artist can provide.

The Ars Sonora Structure

Paccard Bell Foundry

Paccard Family

The Ars Sonora’s bells are being manufactured at the Paccard Bell Foundry in the picturesque town of Annecy, France, known as the “Venice of the Alps.” Since 1796, Paccard’s world-famous bells have stood the test of time.

The Paccard Story

Looking Beneath the Surface

A look beneath the surface of Sykes Plaza reveals the sophistication of the Ars Sonora and its extensive underground infrastructure.

Look Beneath the Surface (PDF)

Susan and John Sykes

The Visionaries Behind the Ars Sonora: Susan and John Sykes

When UT supporter John Sykes envisioned the Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values, he pictured bells. Little did he know then that his vision would grow, literally, into the towering Ars Sonora adorned with 63 of them.

The Susan and John Sykes Ars Sonora is another tangible example of the indelible impact the Sykes have made on the University and community. Susan and John Sykes have made supporting the University a way of life. They have funded the Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values and the Vaughn Center, facilitated the reconstruction of the Sykes College of Business building and endowed UT’s Center for Ethics, among other contributions.

John Sykes is the founder and chairman emeritus of Sykes Enterprises Inc., a Tampa-based company that is a worldwide leader in business process outsourcing, providing customer contact management services to many leading global companies. Deeply involved in a variety of companies and causes, Susan and John Sykes have played a major role in making the Tampa Bay area a better place to live.

80 Feet Deep,18 Reinforced Piers

Ars Sonora beneath

Anchoring the Ars Sonora are 18 reinforced concrete drilled piers That will be embedded deep into the lime rock. They vary in length based on the lime rock depth — the longest is 80 feet below ground level.

Built to Withstand Winds of 160 Mph and Beyond

Palm Trees

For protection from high winds, the Ars Sonora goes far beyond the requirements for such a structure. While the Florida Building Code requires a design wind speed of 141 mph, through sophisticated modeling, the Ars Sonora has been engineered to withstand wind speeds of 160 mph and beyond — greater than a Category 5 hurricane.

Rendering of Ars Sonora on campus

Sykes Plaza: A Gathering Place for All

The Ars Sonora will be the centerpiece of Sykes Plaza, a carefully planned environment that offers the University community a place for inspiration, reflection and entertainment. Each element of the plaza has been intentionally designed — from the fountain to the lighting, seating and landscaping — to complement the Ars Sonora and Sykes Chapel, creating a holistic, inspirational experience for all.

Ars Sonora Documentary

Image Gallery

Exterior of Ars Sonora from the ground

Designing the Ars Sonora has been a complex, international effort navigating different time zones, languages, power frequencies, building codes and structural load standards. The result is world class.

President Vaughn and a UT bell

The Ars Sonora has four large, specially designed swinging bells — three UT bells and the largest of the four, the Sykes bell.

Ars Sonora structure

At the Satil factory in Chambéry, France, construction on the stainless steel sculpture is underway. Shown here are the three almond-shaped structures, each about 30 feet long, which will be installed 75 feet above the ground. Together, they will hold 54 bells and will be programmed with more than 80 LED lights.

Ferman Center Lobby Artist Rendition with Dancers

At the top of every column, a transformer converts high-voltage electrical current to low voltage. The low-voltage current is then connected to the lighting and power supply for the dynamic strikers that play the bells.

Tuning of the bells

Once the bells have been tuned, the dynamic strikers are carefully programmed with state-of-the-art software. The calibration of each striker allows musicians to play the bells at great speed and gives each note its full dynamic range.

Ronald and Renee Vaughn

"The Ars Sonora is truly an example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.”

— Renée Vaughn