New tigers on the prowl

Yvonne Chiu Hays


A crane lifted the 7,000-pound sculptures into their new home guarding the entrance to Princeton Stadium. The stainless steel cats were a gift from William Weaver Jr. '34.

Two new tigers are stalking the north entrance of Princeton Stadium.

The 7,000-pound stainless steel tiger sculptures are gifts of investment banker William Weaver Jr., a 1934 Princeton graduate who donated the money to construct the nearby state-of-the-art track and field stadium named in his honor.

The nine feet tall, 16 feet long tigers arrived Nov. 16 from North Carolina. Ruffin Hobbs, a 48-year-old metal sculptor who works in the Raleigh-Durham area, created the beasts, which look ready to pounce. Hobbs, who usually does not work with stainless steel, surprised himself with the amount of fluidity he was able to generate.

"Stainless steel is so tough but it's clear that if you heat it right and shape it right, you can create a kind of movement with it," said Hobbs, who supervised the tigers' journey north and installed them in their new home.

Using fine sanders, Hobbs created iridescent patterns on the flat steel, which suggest tiger stripes in the sunlight. For claws, Hobbs used valves. The bodies of the tigers are hollow and made of mesh, so that ivy eventually can grow in them.

Hobbs works out of a historic grist mill, forging intricate original and reproduction gates and railings and creating contemporary garden sculptures, wall murals, furniture and mobiles. He met Weaver several months ago as he waited for a ferry to Nantucket Island off the Massachusetts coast.


"I was just in the right place at the right time," Hobbs said. The two struck up a conversation, and Hobbs learned about Weaver's plans. When he was awarded the project, Hobbs had a little more than three months to complete it. He worked at "break-neck" speed, he said.

The statues' arrival was celebrated in a brief ceremony before the Nov. 18 football game. They are part of a $2 million stadium landscaping project that will become known as Weaver Plaza and Walk and is to be completed by fall 2001.

"Mr. Weaver continues to be extremely generous to Princeton, and one of the creative touches that he has provided for us is this pair of tiger statues," said Vice President for Development Van Williams. "The landscaping project is a work in progress. With any kind of luck, by football season next fall, we'll have a remarkably finished look to it."

December 4, 2000
Vol. 90, No. 11
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Page 1
Agencies deliver experience along with the morning paper
Memory formation clearer

Page 2
Clothing donations needed
By the numbers / United Way campaign
Spotlight / People / Obituary

Page 3
Ahmed studies differences, seeks unity
Research notes

Page 4-5
Calendar of events

Page 6
Board names six new full professors
Trustees promote, reappoint

Page 7
New tigers on the prowl

Page 8
Nassau notes

The Bulletin is published weekly during the academic year, except during University breaks and exam weeks, by the Office of Communications, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544. Permission is given to adapt, reprint or excerpt material from the Bulletin for use in other media.

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Editor: Ruth Stevens
Staff writer: Yvonne Chiu Hays
Calendar editor: Carolyn Geller
Contributing writers: Marilyn Marks, Caroline Moseley, Steven Schultz
Photographer: Denise Applewhite
Design: Mahlon Lovett,
Laurel Masten Cantor
Web edition: Mahlon Lovett