Baltimore’s BUS sculpture brings people together through interactive public art
There is no need to ask where the bus stop is in Highlandtown, Baltimore, as it’s spelt out in enormous letters that are each 14 feet tall and 7 feet wide. The interactive sculpture is next to the headquarters of Creative Alliance, a multi-arts space and non-profit, which helped to bring it to fruition.
The organization builds communities by bringing together artists and audiences from diverse backgrounds to engage in the creative process. In a series of streetscape design workshops, hosted by Creative Alliance and Southeast CDC, residents of Highlandtown expressed a desire for an interactive bus stop that made a statement for the Highlandtown Arts & Entertainment District.
In response, Creative Alliance teamed up with Spanish collaborative mmmm….as part of the initiative TRANSIT – Creative Placemaking with Europe in Baltimore. With the help of local sculptors, they created BUS.
The idea behind this piece of public art, which was unveiled in July, is to offer residents a place to socialize as well as to showcase the region’s creativity.
The Creative Alliance website states:
The artists mmmm… wanted to create a place for the community to enjoy, interact, and meet while waiting for the bus. Their mission was to transform the dull experience of waiting for the bus to an entertaining, leisurely space in the middle of the lively rhythm of Highlandtown.
The sculpture enables two to four people to sit and stand within each letter while waiting for the bus. You can shelter from bad weather within the B and even lie down in the S, a shape which allows people catch a few zzzzs.
It is created in a similar way to street benches, the planks of wood are screwed onto the steel structure so that they can’t be vandalized and they support a lot of weight.
mmmm….is also known for its public art work Meeting Bowls, which was set up in Times Square in New York in 2011. It was designed to encourage interaction and was an extraordinary success, being seen by around 20,000 pedestrians and photographed thousands of times.
The days of the standard bus stop could soon be over, as local councils and brands put a spin on this essential feature of the city. There are bus stops made of Lego, heated bus stops with beach benches and ones that recreate the feeling of being inside a football stadium. There are bus stops that helpfully project the travel information onto the sidewalk and even stops that encourage commuters to bust a move.
BUS stands out among these examples as a site that fosters social engagement, proving that art and design have the power to bring people together. And unlike the conventional bus stop, people won’t just be physically together, as the sculpture is such so striking and fun it’s bound to provide a talking point too.