Tech Tower

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Tech Tower on the corner of Cherry Street and Ferst Drive taken by Jarrett Morgon in 2010

Tech Tower, also known as the Academic Building, might be the most famous landmarks of the Georgia Institute of Technology campus. Tech Tower contributed largely to the lengthy and unique history of Georgia Tech and its community.



An architectural company in Atlanta called Bruce and Morgan took to designing the Academic Building. The overall construction took one year and three months starting in the June of 1887 and lasting until the September of 1888. The building was mainly constructed of bricks and totaled four floors including a basement. The Work Shop next to the Academic Building was a two floor building with a tower similar to the Tech Tower. The Work Shop was also designed by Bruce and Morgan company and built in 1888, only taking five months to complete. The workshop contained labs for mechanical and wood handwork. The Work Shop was first razed by fire in 1892 and was rebuilt instead as a two floor building. However, in 1969, it was completely destroyed. [1]

The 'Steam Engine" is located where the workshop used to sit, and an animation of the engine can be seen during the downs of the home game of Yellow Jackets (the football team of Georgia Tech).

The other buildings on the campus of Georgia Institute of Technology when the Institution was founded include the Carnegie Building, which is now the President's Office, Lymnan Hall Laboratory, which was the first chemistry building constructed, and the YMCA Building, where the Almuni Association Offices are located.

The Academic Building itself is one hundred and thirty feet wide and one hundred and twenty feet long and contain all the classrooms, offices, apparatus rooms, recitation and lecture rooms. Also included are rooms designed for drawing, a library, and a chapel. The Academic Building is also where the entrance examination was originally taken in 1889.

Sign with TECH

The "TECH" letters were first placed by the class of 1922 with the hope that the sign would "light the spirit of Tech to the four points of the compass."[2] The letters stand five feet tall and are placed on each side of the tower. The earliest written document of lighting the letters at night was in 1922 as well. The sign was then painted with white and gold,which are the school colors of the Institute.

During 1930s, lightbulbs were placed in the letters to provide better illumination during the evening. In 1969, neon lights replaced lightbulbs to enhance the illumination further."[3]

Stealing the "T"

The "T" on Tech Tower facing the I-75 highway probably has a global reputation. There was a tradition involving stealing the "T" on the side of the Tower facing the highway. If that "T" was taken, the students would remove the "T to the left and work around as necessary. When the "T's" were all taken(as has happened in the past), students began taking the "H's" in the same manner. Next would have been the "E's", and finally the "C's"."[4]

The first "Stealing of the 'T'" happened in 1969, by a group called "Magnificent Seven", setting the foundation of the tradition for more than 30 years later.

In 1980s, the institution welded the letters and added an alarm system to the signs to prevent this kind of event.

Several Notable Thieves

On November 7, 1998, the Tech Tower was "T-less" for 87 days. On January 7, the missing "T" was replaced by the Georgia Tech Office of Facilities and three other "T's". The roof was also repaired because of the damage caused by the attempt of trying to "steal" other "T's". Warren Page, Director of Operations and Maintenance for the Office of Facilities stated that it took 25 hours for workers to fix and examine the roof of Tech Tower. [5] The five students who planned and stole the "T" were charged by the the Division of Student Affairs because their behavior had violated the Student Conduct Code. The current Dean Friedman said that the damage to the Tower caused by the event was quite expensive, estimated at $12,233.75. Also, there was a special coat of paint that needed to be applied to the new "T" so that the damage bill in the future would be more that $20,000. The Dean also stated that the decision made by the Institution that behaviors such as stealing the "T" should be prevented stemmed from the fact that this kind of behavior could potentially be very dangerous and students might get killed in the process. The Dean finally concluded that [Stealing the 'T'] is a criminal offense (including trespassing and vandalism). "When a student commits a crime, it is always possible that it could be adjudicated in the criminal justice system." [6]

Georgia Tech Whistle

The Georgia Tech Whistle is a steam engine that is located near Tech Tower and is a significant part of the history and culture of the Georgia Institute of Technology. It is also the name of the newspaper staff at Georgia Tech.

It is believed that there used to be a student who was in charge of blowing The Whistle. Now, The Whistle runs on a computerized clock. [7]

The Whistle "blows five minutes to the hour to end classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It has a different schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays."[8]

Climbing the Tower

It is believed that people can still climb onto the roof of Tech Tower although no recent record has been found that students have reached the roof of the building. The old method to climb onto the roof was, "Take the elevator to the third floor (as high as it goes)... Then go up the main stairs to the fourth floor... go around the corner and take the steep, narrow steps up to the fifth floor - the first floor in the tower itself... Up the ladder to the sixth floor... Now final climb up the next ladder to the top floor and take a look out the windows." [9]


  2. Georgia Tech Alumni Association
  3. Georgia Tech Alumni Association
  4. Josh Wilson, The Ramblin' Reck Club
  5. Gregory S. Scherrer, Editor and by the Student Publications Board
  6. The Technique, February 6, 1998.
  7. Rembling Wreck Club, The Whistle,
  8. Rembling Wreck Club, The Whistle,
  9. ******(Need to find the author)
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