LAFAYETTE — Calling on the residents of Lafayette to literally become the center of the city they love, the Downtown Development Authority has begun a new project to give the city its “postcard” feature — a site ready-made for a souvenir picture.
Nestled in the grass between a pair of brick walls near the fountain in downtown’s Parc Sans Souci could be eight 6-foot-tall concrete letters that spell out “Lafayette,” sans the Y, according to Kate Durio, Downtown Lafayette’s director of marketing and events.
“We don’t have something that is very Lafayette-looking,” she said. “We don’t have something that people stop on the side of the road to take a picture of to say, ‘Oh look, I’m in Lafayette!’ Why not put something in one of the most loved public places in Lafayette that really puts our best foot forward?”
The missing Y is on purpose, Durio said.
Between the A and E in Lafayette, there will be space for someone to have a picture taken of themselves, raising their arms to form the missing letter.
The large concrete letters could be repainted or decorated for special occasions, Durio said, and there will be a stand-in Y made of chicken wire that could be filled with different items for holidays or big events, such as beads for Mardi Gras.
The sculpture is designed to be durable enough for people to sit and climb on it, Durio said.
Durio designed the sculpture herself, taking inspiration from similar giant-lettered public art that has proven popular in other cities, such as Dallas and Amsterdam.
The campaign kicked off on Sept. 15, and if the sculpture project does not reach its funding goal by Nov. 4, the money collected up to that date will be returned to the donors.
“Sixteen-thousand dollars is not a small amount of money to raise,” Durio said. “We went into that realistically and thought this could be a good experiment with seeking private funding as well as public funding.”
Civicside creator Butch Roussel said he is excited about the possibilities of the project.
“I think it’s a great branding for Lafayette and a great identifier for the city,” he said. “It’s something I could definitely see on a postcard for the city.”
The Downtown Development Authority worked with Civicside earlier this year to get funding for its Jefferson Street Parklet, a small pop-up park with tables and chairs built in a parking spot along Jefferson Street near Carpe Diem.
“I love the idea of people leisurely hanging out by the letters at Downtown Alive,” Roussel said. “Leaning up on them, sitting on them, just using them to enjoy the music. I think it’s great.”
A big reason for choosing Parc Sans Souci was its vibrant, kid-friendly atmosphere, Durio said.
“We find when we have our own events in that park, like Downtown Alive, we see a lot of kids there playing in the fountain,” Durio said. “Kids are climbing on the trees, kids are climbing on those brick-walled beds, so we thought we could give them something else to climb on.”
The plan for the new sculpture is part of the Downtown Development Authority’s “Creativity Everywhere” initiative to nurture more public art downtown.
Last month, DDA installed several custom metal sculptures on intersection light poles around Downtown. Another project involved painting livelier designs on the formerly green metal benches around the fountain at Parc Sans Souci.
For information on the sculpture project, visit its Civicside page at civicside.com.