Matthew Craig Robbins ’06, MARCH ’09 believes that the genius of the original designers of the Bell Tower in 1920 was that they were proactive. That means they designed with plans they left open to one day be picked up and finished. That idea took shape in Robbins’ graduate thesis on NC State architecture and now has become his passion as he leads the efforts to raise money to bring to life the final pieces of the Bell Tower’s design. “I want to pick up where they left off,” he says. “I want to finish it because they left it open knowing some nosy person down the road would get involved and finish it.”
Robbins has organized the Finish the [Bell] Tower, a grassroots movement aimed at raising money for the structure’s completion. His efforts continue those of the 2010 senior class, who also raised money for the purchase of a bell to go in the Bell Tower. And on Tuesday at D.H. Hill Library students were treated to a preview of the fruits of those groups’ labor. Three bells that will go in the tower arrived in the west wing of the library.
Those three bells mean that there are only two more needed for the first set of five to go in. After that goal has been met, Robbins has other plans. Purchasing fifty more bells, adding the carillon and even constructing a staircase in the Bell Tower are all on his list of things to do. Robbins says he is currently working with a designer from the library on a display for a “big reveal” of all the plans at NC State’s Founder’s Day celebration on March 7, 2012. He says that the ambitious goal helps him impart a piece of NC State’s history about alumni who were able to give during harsh economic times, a lesson, he says, that is applicable today.
The group hopes to capture the attention of individual donors to secure the last two bells. Then the donations will go toward the other plans. For Robbins, securing those funds means adding life to NC State’s most famous landmark. “It’s not supposed to be a dead, stoic memorial,” he says. “It’s supposed to be alive.”