Andre Bloc, the most well-known and wealthiest sculptor in 1965, agreed to join the 1965 Long Beach International Sculpture Symposium because he believed that artists must no longer remain at the periphery of society, dependent upon the whims of collectors and patrons. Trained as an engineer, Bloc is best known for his “habitables”, or “sculpture dwellings”, which are buildings with both an exterior and interior but conceived and executed as pieces of sculpture. According to Arts and Architecture, experiencing his work was “to glimpse universality where nature, space, poetry, matter and the search for perfection meet at the level of ideal structure.”
Bloc explained his intention for Carlson/Bloc Tower in the following quote: "I asked the Symposium committee to allow me to play the role of an architectural sculptor. This slender tower will function as a signal, as a landmark. Formerly cities were marked with greatly pleasing and vast sculptural elements. In the improvisation of temporary cities, the value of such elements has been forgotten, creating a confused world where man feels alone among millions of others. With my work I seek to unite man with his environment in a warmer, more personal relationship."
His 65-foot tall bell tower, constructed of 157 tons of white concrete, includes a carillon bell system which was installed in the tower with a keyboard console, operated manually or automatically, located in the Music Building. In addition to the speakers on the tower, there are also speakers on top of the McIntosh Humanities Building. The tower, the only piece not constructed during the eight-week symposium, was completed in 1972, six years after the death of Bloc. It now stands as the focal point on campus, a unique monument that Bloc dedicated as a symbol of friendship between France and the United States. The funds for its construction and the bell system were provided by the Louise Carlson Cultural Trust and the California State University, Long Beach Foundation.
Born in Algeria in 1896, Andre Bloc studied at the School of Arts and Manufacturers in Paris and received a degree in engineering. He developed a lifelong interest in form and became internationally renowned for his work in sculpture and architecture. Bloc was the founding editor of Architecture d’aujourd’hui and an active sculptor whose works were exhibited in Europe and South America. He died at the age of 70 in New Delhi, India.