Fayette County

Bus shelter to be built out of Ale 8 One bottles

It's designed to be eye-catching and environmentally friendly, not to mention useful and convenient.

“Bottlestop,” Lexington's first art bus shelter, is on its way.

Ceremonial shovelfuls of dirt were turned Tuesday at the site where the new art shelter, the first of its kind for Lexington, will be located.

Made largely of hundreds of recycled vintage Ale 8 One soda bottles, the Bottlestop shelter will sit in front of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government's Versailles Road campus — perhaps a most fitting site, as the government campus houses an electronics recycling center.

“The Bottlestop bus shelter is a very creative and exciting way to put public art in our neighborhoods,” Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry said at Tuesday's art shelter groundbreaking ceremony. “It is a design that undoubtedly will generate a lot of comments.”

City planner Joey David, who has been working on the project, called Bottlestop “art with a utilitarian aspect to it.”

He said he hoped the shelter will spur others to “stretch” their minds and look at what they can do in their neighborhoods.

Jim McKay and Aaron Scales of McKay Snyder Architects of Lexington won a nationwide design contest with their design for the art shelter, which might be completed and installed within a couple of months.

“I'm from Kentucky, and Ale 8 One is something I've kind of grown up with,” said Scales, an architectural intern at McKay Snyder, who was a senior at the University of Kentucky when the shelter design was done.

The glass and metal structure will be 6½ feet by 18 feet long and contain seats of various heights for LexTran riders. LexTran will put in the concrete base for the shelter, and will be responsible for the structure's upkeep.

Bottlestop will be environmentally friendly, not only because it will give new life to a lot of old, green Ale 8 One bottles as well as some clear glass bottles originally made for NuGrape soda, but because of its lighting system, those involved in the project said. At night, the shelter will be lit by solar-powered lights.

The bottles, donated by Winchester-based Ale 8 One, will be attached to one another with structural silicone, then sandwiched between sections of heat-strengthened tempered glass. Should the sandwiching glass break, it will shatter into tiny pieces and not break into potentially dangerous shards, designer McKay said.

Should any of the bottles break, they can be replaced easily, according to those involved in the project.

Ale 8 One vice president Fielding Rogers said his company would gladly donate more bottles.

“It's a great way to be able to reuse bottles that would otherwise go to waste,” he said.

In addition to bottles, Ale 8 One has contributed $3,500 for the solar panel that will power the structure's lights. An additional $10,000 in federal funds, as well as many in-kind contributions, are also being used for the shelter.

O'Nan Glass and Voltaic Solar, both of Lexington, are building the structure.

Yvette Hurt, who came up with the idea for putting art shelters at LexTran bus stops, said she hopes the Bottlestop design will be used again in other local bus shelters.

A federal study several years ago concluded that more people used public transit systems that incorporated art, said Hurt, who founded the organization Art in Motion to get the bus shelter project going.

A community art shelter summit for anyone interested in such shelters will be held Oct. 11 at the Old Tarr Distillery on Manchester Street. A time has not been set.