Client Flint Public Art Project
Location Flint, MI
In June we had the privilege of working once again with our friends at Flint Genesee Job Corps on developing a prototype bus stop bench through one of our favorite clients, Flint Public Art Project. Over the course of eight days we worked with twenty of Rejean Houle‘s carpentry apprentices, engaging passersby, Flint MTA staff, Flint Planning Department staff, Bryant Nolden and bus users in the design of a ‘Super Bench’ for the bus stop on the edge of Berston Field House property. Challenged by less than ideal weather and a short time frame, the team was forced to identify, understand, prioritize and then design around the needs of the bus stop users. For example, given the tight time frame and challenging weather conditions in Flint in general (snow loads, etc.), through full-scale prototyping, the team determined the optimal placement of wood slatting to provide maximal shade while not presenting opportunities for unsupportable loads. They also find an interesting structure strengthening and social opportunity that was presented by ‘bending’ the bench into a boomerang shape. While budget, time frame, and lack of existing infrastructure prevent hard-wired lights, the team did explore various deployments of cheap solar powered lights that also met theft concerns. As has happened with previous projects with the team along Saginaw Street–a high speed thoroughfare–the design-build process served as a traffic calming tool with cars slowing down to ask or catch a glimpse of what was happening. Throughout the project the team used the process to engage people as well as gather data for the MTA and Planning Department, counting such things as cyclists using the bus or the new bike lanes.