‘Iconic’ sculpture planned for riverfront _lowres

Rendering provided by the DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT -- Po Shu Wang, a San Francisco artist, designed the winnng entry in an international competition that sought a piece of public art to be installed at an overlook of the Mississippi River to mark the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge. The sculpture will be installed in 2018. A sensor in the Mississippi River will measure the speed of the current and the height of the river. The information will bounce back to an antenna that will convert it to a sound, allowing the river to “sing”. Visitors to the sculpture will be able to “sing” back to the river, by either speaking into one of the spheres or pressing buttons. The sculpture will be lit up at night.

The piece of public art that will be installed at an overlook of the Mississippi River at Florida Street and River Road will be an “iconic” object, the member of the committee that selected the winning design told the Downtown Development District Commission on Tuesday.

“This is something that people will want to come back to again and again,” said Raymond “Skipper” Post, an architect and member of the Rotary centennial committee said at the meeting, which was held in the Hilton Capitol Center Baton Rouge.

Po Shu Wang, a San Francisco-based artist, was selected last month to design the sculpture, which will be installed in 2018 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge. His sculpture will be three stainless steel reflective spheres nestled in each other, with the biggest one standing 14 feet tall.

A sensor in the Mississippi River will measure the speed of the current and the height of the river. The information will bounce back to an antenna that will convert it to a sound, allowing the river to “sing”. Visitors to the sculpture will be able to “sing” back to the river, by either speaking into one of the spheres or pressing buttons. The sculpture will be lit at night.

Post said the sculpture should be visible from the Mississippi River bridge.

Wang was selected after a search that started in the beginning of the year. About 150 entries were submitted, and that number was gradually whittled to three finalists. This fall, the three finalists were flown to Baton Rouge, where they could see how the Mississippi River interacted with the site.

Rotary officials said they raised about $350,000 for the sculpture. Post said there are plans to make a documentary about the design and fabrication of the sculpture.

In other business:

The DDD’s 2016 budget was easily approved. The budget calls for the organization to spend $656,360 in the upcoming year, a 2.4 percent increase over the current $641,150 budget. Salaries and benefits for the DDD’s five employees account for most of the spending, totaling $539,150.

The DDD’s 10-mill property tax is budgeted to generate $512,800 in the upcoming year, and the city-parish general fund is set to once again make an annual contribution of $142,500.

Davis Rhorer, executive director, said the DDD will spend much of 2016 doing “major planning work.” In 2017, the downtown taxing district is set to nearly double to 2.2 square miles. The Legislature expanded the boundaries of the district in 2012, and voters overwhelmingly passed a measure this fall to apply the 10-mill downtown property tax to the entire district. This will generate an additional estimated $87,000 in tax revenue beginning in 2017.

Plans to redevelop the Saltz building at 442 Main St. into a six-unit apartment building were discussed. The building will consist of a mix of one- and two-bedroom units that will rent at market rates, Rhorer said.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate .