Big Al was looking good in 2008. (Photo: Rob Felt/Georgia Tech)
While towering over Georgia Tech's campus in Atlanta, Big Al saw it all.
The 100-year-old willow oak watched as students and staff used his crown for shade, his branches for cover from the rain and his trunk for a resting place for studying and reading.
He was one of the oldest and most beautiful trees on campus. Sadly, the 106-foot tree split in September 2018 due to failing health and couldn't be saved.
When a 100-year-old tree split and fell at Georgia Tech, our students swooped in and started making things by hand to honor its legacy.— Georgia Tech (@GeorgiaTech) February 21, 2019
This place is so awesome. 💛🌳 #CreatingTheNext #WeCanDoThat | https://t.co/asYYAZWYX0 pic.twitter.com/q5Ky1ZB3HS
The campus community felt a loss. However, one group of students decided to honor Big Al by creating the Fall of a Champion exhibit.
As part of their classwork for associate professor Hugh Crawford, students studied the relationship between people and trees, and then used that information to explain why Big Al and other trees make a huge difference in our world.
The display is located in a commons area on campus and features works by the students, all created from wood collected from Big Al as the tree was being removed.
There are benches, tables, signs and all sorts of creations honoring the tree. Photos and signs nearby show Big Al in all his glory and the processes the students used to create the exhibit.
The opening reception featured tree-themed refreshments like birch and apple juice, as well as a variety of nuts and pies made from different trees.
The exhibit runs through March 8, but the legacy of Big Al will continue. The college has planted 13 oak trees in the area to slowly restore the canopy to its former grandeur.