Neil Armstrong lives on in Kirk Plaza - Thousands remember, pay homage at his statue

Chas Fagan working on the Armstrong sculpture
Soon after the news of Neil Armstrong’s death on August 25, students, faculty and staff began leaving flowers and other mementos at Armstrong’s statue outside Armstrong Hall.

At the corner of Northwestern and Stadium avenues, the statue of Armstrong sits in Kirk Plaza, which is named for Engineering alumnus Robert L. Kirk, and his wife, the late Mary Jo Kirk, who donated funds for its production. Robert, who lives in Washington, D.C., earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1952 and received an honorary doctorate in engineering from Purdue in 1993.

Made of bronze, the 8-foot-tall, 125-percent-scale statue created by artist Chas Fagan of Charlotte, N.C., shows Armstrong as he was while a Purdue student — clean-cut, wearing a windbreaker, button-down Oxford shirt, cuffed pants and penny loafers. His right hand rests on some books, and his oft-used slide rule is out of its case.

An elliptical stone arc resembling a spacecraft trajectory is embedded in the ground next to the statue. An inscription in the arc reads: “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The arc leads toward molds of lunar footprints made from an impression of a moon boot provided by the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The 20 boot impressions trail away from the sculpture, replicating the bounding gait of an Apollo astronaut.