Passersby walking along the downtown Baton Rouge riverfront will notice the long-awaited, interactive 14-foot-tall sculpture installed in early November, in honor of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge’s centennial.
Designed by internationally acclaimed artist Po Shu Wang, the stainless steel spherical sculpture was donated to the City of Baton Rouge by the Rotary Club, which raised about $350,000 in private funds to commission the sculpture in 2015, celebrating the club’s 100-year anniversary.
Reminiscent of the famous bean sculpture in Chicago, the new downtown form features three mirrored round surfaces nestled in each other, placed on a constructed platform atop the levee, near the red Adirondack chairs at the intersection of Florida Street and River Road.
Though completed in 2018, the sculpture sat in a warehouse for months because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wouldn’t let the city do work on the levee while the Mississippi River was above flood stage; work resumed in September.
Generally, the art is intended to be interactive with visitors and the flow of the Mississippi River. Back when Wang was selected to construct the project four years ago, the artist said that, upon seeing the river in person, he was overcome with a “desire to focus on the intimate, to create a work that will provide [the DDD] and visitors with a tangible way of having a real duet with the river.”
Significantly, the art allows the river to “sing.” A sensor has been placed in the river to measure the speed of the current and height of the water level, with a software program converting the data to sound frequencies to produce a singing effect. Visitors will be able to “sing” back to the river, by either speaking into one of the spheres or pressing buttons.
At night, the sculpture will be illuminated by LED nights and visible from the Mississippi River bridge.
Others involved with the project include Post Architects, Ragland Aderman & Associates Inc., Boh Bros Construction Co., Turner Industries and the city-parish.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Dec. 6.