Environment Planet Earth Georgia Tech Honors the Life and Death of a 100-Year-Old Tree By Ben Bolton Writer University of Georgia Ben Bolton has covered athletics for several universities. He has since embarked on a career as a digital editor, creating media campaigns for major brands. our editorial process Ben Bolton Updated February 25, 2019 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Planet Earth Outdoors Weather Conservation Big Al was looking good in 2008. Rob Felt/Georgia Tech While towering over Georgia Tech's campus in Atlanta, Big Al saw it all. The 100-year-old willow oak watched as students and staff used his crown for shade, his branches for cover from the rain and his trunk for a resting place for studying and reading. He was one of the oldest and most beautiful trees on campus. Sadly, the 106-foot tree split in September 2018 due to failing health and couldn't be saved. The campus community felt a loss. However, one group of students decided to honor Big Al by creating the Fall of a Champion exhibit. As part of their classwork for associate professor Hugh Crawford, students studied the relationship between people and trees, and then used that information to explain why Big Al and other trees make a huge difference in our world. The display is located in a commons area on campus and features works by the students, all created from wood collected from Big Al as the tree was being removed. The exhibit honoring Big Al features creations made from the tree's wood. Christopher Moore/Georgia Tech There are benches, tables, signs and all sorts of creations honoring the tree. Photos and signs nearby show Big Al in all his glory and the processes the students used to create the exhibit. The opening reception featured tree-themed refreshments like birch and apple juice, as well as a variety of nuts and pies made from different trees. The exhibit runs through March 8, but the legacy of Big Al will continue. The college has planted 13 oak trees in the area to slowly restore the canopy to its former grandeur.