By Mike Farley
In my experience, watershapers have a tendency to focus a bit too narrowly on one or another aspect of the craft – some on pools and spas, others on ponds or fountains. You get the idea: In speaking with clients, there’s an inclination to play to one’s strongest cards – and I think that can be
By Mike Farley
These days, it seems like just about every homeowner wants to get something special with their pools and spas. More often than not, that means some form of water in transit, whether it’s a cool spillway, a vanishing edge, a bubbler on a thermal shelf – or, as in the case highlighted here, some sort of jet that will
Consider this scenario:
A company you’ve worked with in the past calls your firm in to work on a project. You’re told the setting is magnificent: You’ll be working with a huge sculpture in the most prominent position in front of one of the most renowned sports stadiums on the planet – all of this in a city that prides itself on brilliant architecture.
The job is yours, but here’s the thing: The client is the wife of Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and he’s not supposed to know what’s really going on out front of his own stadium until an unveiling ceremony scheduled for his birthday.
And it gets better: The call comes at the end of April and the unveiling ceremony will take place in October. To say it’s a fast-track project would be putting it mildly.
Once the design was finalized, we were to have ten weeks to turn approximately a million and a half pounds of concrete, steel and stone into a working fountain. And along the way, the stadium was to host a range of events – a Monster Truck Jam, a FIFA World Cup Soccer qualifying match, a Professional
Some projects carry obvious prestige, and this is one of them: The pair of reflecting pools and the sculpture that rises above them stand in front of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – home to the Dallas Cowboys and, several times a year, host to nationally televised football games.
But certain of these prestige projects take on extra dimensions – and this was one of them, too: The mirror-finished dish that surmounts the watershapes
This waterfall could’ve been built in either of two ways: A system of internal reservoirs and a long, narrow nozzle could’ve been formed as part of the structure itself, a task that would’ve placed huge burdens on the forming crew and the person shooting the gunite; or a manufactured fixture could be used to create the desired effect.
Sensibly, the folks at Tango Pools in Las Vegas chose to pursue the latter option, deciding it would be better to
It was one of those projects where aesthetics, technology, function and history all came together.
Installed on a pier on the waterfront in Hoboken, N.J., right across the river from the Manhattan skyline, the dry-deck fountain pictured on these pages was part of a civic development movement aimed at creating new public areas on both the New York and New Jersey shores.
Our company, Roman Fountains of Albuquerque, N.M., first became involved in the project in 1996, when we
Through all the centuries of watershape design, the laws of physics have imposed restrictions on the watershaper’s ability to extend a laminar flow of sheeting water beyond a drop of five or six feet. Go much beyond that limit and the sheet breaks up, thus impairing the aesthetic effect, causing an annoying degree of splashing and generating an abundance of undesirable, monotonous noise.
Those physical laws have been seriously bent in public spaces in recent times. Indeed, special weirs and nozzles have made it possible to achieve laminar flows of 12 feet or more. Up until now, the solutions employed to achieve these effects have usually been beyond the budget of smaller commercial projects or residential clients – but that’s changing.
At my firm, Crystal Fountains, we’ve long been studying the phenomenon of falling water with an eye toward maximizing the surface tension of water and thereby extending the “laminar” effect without breaking the bank. We’ve had the luxury of working on some high-end projects that enabled us to perform the research and development necessary to do that stretching.
By adapting some of the design ideas we
It’s an age-old paradox, this relationship between art and science. On the face of it, things artistic may seem solely the realm of high-flying thinkers and philosophers who spend their days at the far reaches of interpretation and meaning. By contrast, engineers and scientists would seem to be dealing purely in the certainties of what is quantifiable and real.
The truth is, I don’t know of a modern art form that doesn’t involve technology of some kind. Conversely, most branches of modern science call upon researchers to apply a great deal of intuition and creativity to the processes of exploration and discovery. In other words, neither the arts nor the sciences could exist without ideas and disciplines derived from the other.
That’s especially true when it comes to water systems. Whether created for aesthetic or recreational purposes, art and science can come together here in a particularly compelling and interesting way. By combining technical disciplines with
As the watershaping industry gets more involved with naturalistic bodies of water – particularly large ponds, lakes and streams intended to harbor life in the forms of aquatic plants and fish – it becomes increasingly worthwhile to understand the important role of proper aeration.
Aeration is a simple process involving the injection of dissolved oxygen (DO) into water. Nature aerates by way of things such as waterfalls and rain – activities we must imitate by mechanical means in our man-made settings if fish are to be healthy and a host of water-quality problems are
It’s a fact: Creating large watershapes for international clients is enough to send a project team’s stress levels off the charts.
You start with all the usual pressures of time, money and prestige that go along with performing on the global level. Then there are cultural differences, not to mention local environmental concerns having to do with water usage. And these factors can give you trouble even when you think you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Through the years, our company has learned many lessons about the importance of accommodating the cultural and economic overtones of what we do. From our base in Toronto, Crystal Fountains pursues projects the world over and always strives to
In conceptual terms, interactive fountains are really nothing new. In fact, fountains have featured water effects and sequencing lights since the turn of the 20th Century.
What’s emerged lately is a perception that these “dancing” waters are great sources of fun – a means for children to get soaked and for adults to stay dry and enjoy the show. This resurgence of interest has led designers and manufacturers to apply the knowledge and mechanics of the past in creating effects that delight the eye, capture the imagination and bring fun to
An important part of creating beautiful commercial watershapes is designing systems that actually work, effectively and enduringly, within the requirements and constraints of their given settings.
This has become a real issue in the fountain business, where new demand is popping up at locations as diverse as resorts, malls, hotels, art pavilions, office buildings, convention centers, museums and even restaurants – and a few too many good-looking designs have been pulled out, significantly downsized or turned into planters because they just haven’t performed as needed or
In the ballet of sequenced water, you’ll find a repertoire of effects for watershapes of all kinds. Like individual dance steps, these water effects can be beautiful on their own – or they can be used in combination with other effects to create elaborately choreographed shows that dazzle, delight and entertain.
From simple to complex and from small to utterly huge, sequenced-water effects are truly amazing, and the nice thing is that they can be incorporated into all kinds of watershapes. We’ll take a look at some of the possibilities here as a means of defining why you and your clients should think about incorporating the devices needed to make them work in your projects.
There are practical issues, of course, so we’ll also cover the process of designing for sequencing and the considerations involved in the creative effort, as well as discussing the ins and outs of programming and commissioning for sequenced watershapes. In an extensive sidebar, we’ll also take a look at available technologies and their strengths and weaknesses.
Before we get into