WaterShapes

The web site for all professionals and consumers who've made or want to make water a part of their lives

Beyond the Tap

Needing to testify to the sustainability of a fountain project is now common.  The good news, writes Robert Mikula, is that it's becoming easier to defend the inclusion of any type of watershape if you make resource conservation a clear, distinct, reachable goal from the get-go.
Needing to testify to the sustainability of a fountain project is now common. The good news, writes Robert Mikula, is that it's becoming easier to defend the inclusion of any type of watershape if you make resource conservation a clear, distinct, reachable goal from the get-go.
By Robert Mikula

As purveyors of fountains and other forms of decorative or recreational water, watershapers are faced these days by an immediate challenge:  What we do is generally classified as “unsustainable” by an environmentally conscious public because they erroneously assume poor performance when it comes to the way we approach water consumption, use of space and energy efficiency.

On the surface, these are serious knocks on

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Water's Place

We're all naturally attracted to water, writes Robert Mikula, but with perceptions of its preciousness and scarcity on the rise, it has become increasingly difficult to ensure its inclusion in built environments.  Here's the first of three articles about pathways through the obstacles.
We're all naturally attracted to water, writes Robert Mikula, but with perceptions of its preciousness and scarcity on the rise, it has become increasingly difficult to ensure its inclusion in built environments. Here's the first of three articles about pathways through the obstacles.
By Robert Mikula

As watershapers, we’re comfortable using our chosen medium as a place-maker, an entertainer and a resource for recreation.  In doing so, we take advantage of the fact that water is a unique, extremely versatile substance that can be manipulated in innumerable ways.

We also accommodate the thought that, supreme among design media, water has a pronounced and often profound effect on people who

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#25: Water Wall

1-25 farley video artBy Mike Farley

In concept, water walls are pretty straightforward:  You pump a bit of water to the top of a structure and set up a weir or spillways or a system of emitters to release water so that it moves down the face of the wall the way you want it to flow.

In actuality, however, water walls are much more complicated than that.  In fact, there are lots of things that

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First Impressions

An extensive facelift for Chicago's famed Navy Pier involved creating a brand-new park at its entrance, complete with a large interactive fountain.  Working in so public a space amps up the pressure, notes Asmaa Elkorazati -- and puts a premium on having the right project team.
An extensive facelift for Chicago's famed Navy Pier involved creating a brand-new park at its entrance, complete with a large interactive fountain. Working in so public a space amps up the pressure, notes Asmaa Elkorazati -- and puts a premium on having the right project team.
By Asmaa Elkorazati

Projects in significant public spaces are rewarding on many levels, but they also carry their fair share of challenges, mostly in the forms of scheduling, coordination and communication.

For us at Crystal Fountains (Concord, Ontario, Canada), these hurdles are beyond familiar:  For decades, we’ve been a go-to working partner for fountain and interactive waterfeature projects around the world, from the Crown Fountain

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An Exotic Oasis

Working far from his U.S. home base is nothing new for Josh Martin.  But in the case of the Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, the scale of the project -- combined with the large number of watershapes and their abundance of precision details -- kept things interesting, one feature after another.
Working far from his U.S. home base is nothing new for Josh Martin. But in the case of the Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, the scale of the project -- combined with the large number of watershapes and their abundance of precision details -- kept things interesting, one feature after another.
By Josh Martin

When it comes to ostentatious and even audacious aquatic displays, there’s no doubt that the Middle East now boasts some of the world’s most incredible watershapes.  Even a quick survey reveals a tremendous range of architectural and hydrological marvels in which technology is paired with grandeur to stunning effect.

Several instances of this exuberance appear on

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#24: Rain Curtain

7-13 farley video artBy Mike Farley

This is one of those cases where, from a design perspective, I said just about everything I wanted to say about rain-curtain effects in the video linked below.

They look great, they sound even better and my clients love them.  So what else is there to consider?  Well,

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Recent comments

  • Guest - B. Jackson

    This is the EXACT reason that builders should specify rain curtains that have removable and serviceable nozzles, instead of mere holes drilled into a manifold. These styles cost more, but they make maintenance a breeze and can be disassembled for decalcification, removal of debris in the nozzle and ...
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Finding a Fix

The fountain basin was designed for children at play, but a deteriorating finish was making it much less fun than it should have been.  Enter Ron Melbourne, a specialist in reviving watershapes in their time of need:  He saved the day with felt, adhesive, PVC and well-applied heat.
The fountain basin was designed for children at play, but a deteriorating finish was making it much less fun than it should have been. Enter Ron Melbourne, a specialist in reviving watershapes in their time of need: He saved the day with felt, adhesive, PVC and well-applied heat.
By Ron Melbourne

Yards Park is a wonderful open space in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood of Washington, D.C.  One of its main attractions is in the middle block of the park, where you’ll find a grand watershape with a footprint that covers an area spanning 20 by 135 feet.  

At one end, there’s a fountain/waterfeature that immediately catches the eye.  But the big draw

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Imagination Renewed

In the year to come, the renowned Main Fountain at Longwood Gardens will be undergoing a mass-scale renovation.  Robert Nonemaker is tracking the process for us, beginning here with an insider's report on the grand display's gradual decline -- and imminent rebirth.
In the year to come, the renowned Main Fountain at Longwood Gardens will be undergoing a mass-scale renovation. Robert Nonemaker is tracking the process for us, beginning here with an insider's report on the grand display's gradual decline -- and imminent rebirth.
By Robert Nonemaker

When the management at Longwood Gardens announced in late 2014 that the Main Fountain Garden would be taken offline and become the subject of a $90 million restoration project, anyone who has ever visited the gardens had to be happy.

I’ve been a regular visitor and huge fan of the Longwood for most of my life, and it’s been sad through the years to watch various systems break down and the overall performance of what was left gradually

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The Weight of History

Working on big restoration projects is always a challenge, but when the subject fountain is 300 years old and the setting is the famous Gardens of Versailles?  Well, says David L'Heureux, it takes care, professionalism -- and a determination to perform at the very highest level.
Working on big restoration projects is always a challenge, but when the subject fountain is 300 years old and the setting is the famous Gardens of Versailles? Well, says David L'Heureux, it takes care, professionalism -- and a determination to perform at the very highest level.
By David L’Heureux

Starting in 1661, Louis XIV of France began a building project at his country estate in Versailles that would keep him busy throughout what remained of his reign.  He held on all the way through until 1715, so he had a good, long time to browbeat large numbers of architects, designers and engineers into making the chateau a statement of power, wealth and majesty befitting a man who called himself Le Roi Soleil

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Classic French

Working among the 300-year-old fountains in France's Gardens of Versailles was a bit intimidating, recalls David L'Heureux.  But as he writes here, the delicate process of adding modern LED systems to enhance their nighttime appearance was also inspiring beyond measure.
Working among the 300-year-old fountains in France's Gardens of Versailles was a bit intimidating, recalls David L'Heureux. But as he writes here, the delicate process of adding modern LED systems to enhance their nighttime appearance was also inspiring beyond measure.
David L’Heureux

For much of human history, those with power and wealth have been willing to put both on display in the places they choose to reside.  There are palaces and great houses all over the planet, each one testifying to the grandeur of its owner and the talents of the architects and designers brought in to turn grand visions into actual structures and garden spaces.

Often, those commissioning these conspicuous projects were members of

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Recent comments

  • Wow! Great job David. Can't wait to go see your work. You guys are are the pinnacle of the industry. Keep it up. Setting the bar high raises all our standards.
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Trust in Balance

When Jim Wilder approaches a fountain project, his knowledge of basic hydraulics tells him to rely on balance and lay out his systems accordingly.  But he also knows how difficult it can be to resist a bit of performance-ensuring overkill -- even when he knows better.
When Jim Wilder approaches a fountain project, his knowledge of basic hydraulics tells him to rely on balance and lay out his systems accordingly. But he also knows how difficult it can be to resist a bit of performance-ensuring overkill -- even when he knows better.
By Jim Wilder

No matter where you turn these days, you’ll find watershaping experts preaching the gospel of balanced hydraulics.  In class after class, text after text, they all say that if you do exactly the same thing on one side of a tee as you do on the other, you will get the same flow on both side of that tee.

If, for example, two main drains are connected to a single tee with pipes of the same length and diameter and the same fittings, those drains will both draw equal amounts of

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Recent comments

  • Guest - Jim

    Hi Ted, It was many years ago but I am sure we used a 3" or 4" equalizer pipes for both the central heads and for the outer pond. I am not doing the maintenance but I recommended pH, Hardness, ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate testing and adjusting for the pond. The fountain uses TRiChlor tablets. The ...
  • Guest - Bill Dowden

    I just finished reading the very misleading and dangerous article about Trust in Balance. His concept is fine as far as it goes, but it does not address a main design issue of making sure that the restriction by too small a plumbing system doesn't come into play. For example: 10 jets on each side...
  • What size equalizer line between the two biological ponds as well as the chemically treated vessels do you like to use typically?????
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A Sloshing Mystery

More than 25 years ago, even before he was a watershaper, Jim Wilder came across a fountain puzzle he couldn't solve.  Since then, he's figured it out -- and shares his observations of a neat effect here.
More than 25 years ago, even before he was a watershaper, Jim Wilder came across a fountain puzzle he couldn't solve. Since then, he's figured it out -- and shares his observations of a neat effect here.
By Jim Wilder

Water in the open basins that commonly surround fountain jets or nozzles is never tranquil while these systems are in operation.  It will slosh around in response to the upward thrust of those jets or nozzles as well as the splashing the rising water makes as it drops back into the basin.  If the circumstances are right, this disruptive splashing will produce waves in a distinct, consistent pattern.  By exploiting these waves, it’s possible to produce an effect I find

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Recent comments

  • Jim: Great article but you give fountain designers way too much credit. Most of these instances are totally by mistake as designers fail to understand the reason that water level dependent nozzles create this wave action. Any nozzle that is placed at or below the water level imparts energy into th...
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All Aboard!

When the city of Denver decided to revitalize an old downtown neighborhood by bringing its historic train station back to life, reports Karen Van Heukelem, she and her colleagues at Colorado Hardscapes were ready to pitch in on several levels.  They did lots of work that’s buried underground, she notes, but the evidence their sub-grade craftsmanship shines forth on deck in the form of a wonderful leaping-jet waterfeature.
When the city of Denver decided to revitalize an old downtown neighborhood by bringing its historic train station back to life, reports Karen Van Heukelem, she and her colleagues at Colorado Hardscapes were ready to pitch in on several levels. They did lots of work that’s buried underground, she notes, but the evidence their sub-grade craftsmanship shines forth on deck in the form of a wonderful leaping-jet waterfeature.
By Karen Van Heukelem

In recent years, cities across the United States have found that restoring their old train stations is a great way to attract people and commerce to downtown districts that have seen better days.  These revitalization projects have picked up the pace in cities from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, and they seem to work best when old, original functions are preserved and mixed in with the new.

That’s precisely the direction that redevelopment of Denver’s historic Union Station has taken:  The classic, Beaux Arts-style building, which opened in 1914, lost almost all of the

Read more: All Aboard!

Recent comments

  • Great Job. Love to read about these projects! Keep up the great work of reporting these stories. Regards. Greg McCord
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