Downtown stage sculpture construction begins

Workers began Monday constructing the massive $900,000 sculpture over the Galvez Plaza stage in downtown Baton Rouge, adjacent to the city-parish governmental complex.

The stage canopy, called “The Crest,” will be a 65,000-pound, 35-foot tall, curved oval which will act as both a piece of public art in North Boulevard Town Square and as a functional performance stage cover to hold up lighting and sound equipment.

The sculpture, designed by Trahan Architects, is 16,700 square feet of stainless steel, and is 85 feet in length and 45 wide, said Mark Hash, one of the architects.

The canopy is made up of 14 segments, which will be assembled over the next two weeks. Contractors bolted in the base of the structure, which is the heaviest segment, on Monday, Hash said.

Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District, said the project should be fully complete and ready to be enjoyed by the public in February. He said there will be plenty of time before Live After Five, the downtown concert series, begins in April.

“I wanted a piece that could be a real progressive symbol for the city,” Rhorer said.

He said the sculpture will be an iconic sculpture, one that has been compared to the stainless steel Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park that has been nicknamed the “bean.”

The project was funded through state sales tax rebates dedicated to downtown Riverfront projects. The funds can not be diverted for any other city-parish needs.

The funding was approved by the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council last year, after extensive debate and concerns from some council members over the cost of the project and questions of whether the sculpture would be structurally sound.

Councilwoman Tara Wicker, whose district encompasses downtown, said the canopy will enhance the blossoming Town Square.

“We’re already seeing the impact of the totality of the downtown projects,” Wicker said. “I’ll be glad when the canopy comes up. It will be a great Christmas gift for the city.”