Client: City of Baton Rouge Downtown Development Distict
Location: Baton Rouge, LA, United States
Completion date: 2012
Artwork budget: $2,000,000
Joseph Furr Design Studio
Brown & Danos
Trahan Architects (beacon)
Frank Hayden (1934-1988)
Baton Rouge Downtown Development District
North Boulevard Town Square, a two-acre urban greenspace: realigned streets and renovated existing plazas, created a multi-purpose landscape for public gathering and events. The landscape includes existing and new sculptures including, “Oliver Pollok” and “Marche de Galvez” by Frank Hayden, the “Crest” by Trahan Architects and the “Beacon” by the Landscape Architects. The project integrates artwork and several performance venues within gathering areas, grass lawns and elevated plazas. The “Crest” functions as a sculpture and doubles as the main stage canopy when needed. The beacon is a sculptural multimedia display for digital art.
The goals for the project were to create a series of spaces, that provided a landscape for programmed and impromptu activities. This included venues for performance art, temporary art and festivals, permanent sculptures and multimedia artistic expression. Two significant existing works required sensitive landscape architectural design, as research found that the artist sited them to face each other, in a particular orientation. The main stage canopy, “The Crest” evolved from a traditional stage form, to a significant sculpture, which practically functions as a stage cover when needed. Given that the stage was prominently located in the square, it was important to have a structure that stood alone as an art piece integrated into the space. The “Beacon”, central to the square, functions as an information and entertainment feature, and routinely promotes exhibits at the adjacent Shaw Center for the arts and the LSUMOA. Additionally, several multimedia art exhibits have been designed and displayed on the video and light panels. The beacon continues to be, not only a sculptural piece itself, but also an ever-changing expression of light and sound. The space fully engages many forms of visual and performance art within its context.
Collaboration began with the team. Led by landscape architects, it included, architects and engineers; and, because of the importance of providing a space for creative, expression and that several existing sculptures needed consideration, we included an art consultant, a concert promoter, digital strategy and marketing professionals, and a slam poet. The design of the stage and Crest canopy considered the needs for sculptural significance and the needs as a functioning venue. The landscape architects collaborated with the team to provide a stage that would act as a counter-weight to support the cantilevered structure. We also provided the infrastructure needs for the performance venue. The art consultants provide the historic significance of the existing pieces and worked as design advocates verifying any changes in design upheld the original artist’s intent. The digital specialists and marketing professionals insured that the Beacon met the needs for multimedia and branding and designed the initial multimedia exhibit. Together the team also provided public outreach and responsive planning to satisfy objections about the proper placement of and existing work that had to be relocated. The result is a space that fully incorporates and displays art of many types.
This project is a success on many levels. Functional artwork was added, existing artwork was respected and celebrated. The Beacon, as a sculptural piece, displays new digital works, promotes the major art centers in downtown and broadcasts live art presentations. It has become a living sculpture. The landscape architecture is artistic as well and the space has become the cultural heartbeat for the city. Art exists in many forms here from the traditional to the contemporary, in sculpture, surrounding architecture and the landscape architecture.