The story behind the Cosmo Bench

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There are few spots on campus that kids, parents, teens, professors, elderly visitors and students have the same fascination with.

For the last nine months, the Cosmo Bench, located within The Wall, has become such a spot. All types of campus visitors are drawn daily to sit within the outstretched arms of Cosmo, the bronze cougar.

“Everyone loves taking a picture on the Cosmo Bench, especially on the weekends and during graduation,” said Sterling May, manager of The Wall. “We see athletes, new students, current students and just about everyone sitting with Cosmo.”

What visitors don’t realize is that it took months of planning, preparation and work to create the Cosmo Bench.

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Initial sketch of the Cosmo Bench. (Courtesy Marie Withers)

Almost two years ago, Marie Withers of BYU Creative Services was asked to create a structure within The Wall that would create a photo opportunity for visitors. Eventually that turned into the idea of a “Cosmo Bench.” Withers created a sketch that was later presented to sculptor Virgil Oertle in Salt Lake City.

“Virgil’s layout was really similar to my sketch,” Withers said. “He did his own interpretation from photographs and other things.”

Oertle then made an 18-inch model to present to The Wall’s building committee, Withers said. The design was approved, and the five-month process of building the bench began.

The bench is made of a clay mold structure that was eventually solidified into bronze. Upon completion, the bench sat in storage for a few months prior to The Wall’s grand opening in January 2013. Since then, it has become a popular gathering place in The Wall, according to May.

“When a group of girls come in, one will always be sitting on his lap, one will be cuddled up next to him, one will be holding his hand and one will be kissing him,” said Jessica Palmer, a bartender at The Wall and a senior studying Teaching in Social Sciences.

Jensen Krause, another bartender at The Wall and sophomore studying special education, said  guys like to pose very manly next to Cosmo, usually with a bicep flex as if they’re trying to show off.

BYU Magazine gives a look into how various visitors pose next to Cosmo in this video. Visitors are invited to come sit with Cosmo during The Wall’s business hours, 7:45 a.m.–11 p.m., Monday–Thursday and Saturday, and 7:45 am.–midnight on Friday.

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