From the start, the systems I call “Graphical Waterfalls” have always been about combining art and technology to create something unusual and visually arresting.
As discussed in a WaterShapes article in August 2007 (click here), it was an idea that began in the first year of my professional teaching career at the University of South Florida in Tampa. It became an earnest professional pursuit when I asked a professor in the music department if I could borrow some time on his
When New York’s Long Island comes up in conversation, most people think about the Hamptons, exclusive summer resorts, incredible estates and beaches by the mile.
But that image has a flip side: For many years, in fact, Wyandanch, a hamlet within the town of Babylon, N.Y., has been a community that has had very little go its way, with poverty-stricken streets, gang activity and not much going on that would make its citizens hopeful about
As customer demands continue to push the creativity of watershapers to new limits, industry professionals need to stay atop the trends – and nudge those of us on the supplier side to new levels of creativity as well.
In some cases, this means learning how to construct new environments, such as the vanishing edges and beach entrances so many clients now want. In other cases, this expanded creativity comes from a need to know what products are available from manufacturers.
Although once they were the product of on-site construction skills, sheeting waterfalls now fall largely into the category of
Given the way bodies of water interact with gravity, a great deal of the personality of any swimming pool is set by the flat surface of the water and its reflective qualities. In our work, we’ve found a variety of ways to capitalize on that flatness by creating focal points that are distinctly vertical in nature.
In fact, we’ve found that working on the “y axis” and focusing on upright structures as diverse as arches, walls, columns and waterfalls can yield a variety of stunning visual effects: Exterior spaces and vistas can be connected or distinguished, architectural shapes can be contrasted or echoed, shadows or reflections can be cast, and privacy or openness can be enhanced.
The fact that these effects cut both ways makes them appealing to a custom builder who strives to give clients something unique and lets the characteristics of the individual setting drive the design process. It makes the work more challenging, yes, but it also makes it more fun and rewarding.
In many cases, the vertical elements we use can be subtle and retiring – a slightly raised bond beam, for example, or a small waterfall. More often than not, however, we gravitate toward the bold and declarative by integrating water into architectural forms and creating dramatic and
What is good lake construction? What makes some pristine and beautiful while others seem fetid and slimy? To discover the answer to these and other questions, we need to start by defining what we mean by “lake.”
It may seem arbitrary, but the distinction can be an important one, especially to people who own them. You don’t want to insult anyone by calling their lake a pond or lagoon, for example. By the same token, you don’t want to seem ill-informed or unprofessional in referring to their waterfeature as a lake. Given the different
Interactive watershapes are all about invitations to play.
For designers, interactive watershapes provide invitations to use water and the control of flowing water to create unique play environments. For children, teenagers, parents and other adults, they are invitations to play with one another in a safe and exciting aquatic playground.
It’s a form of invitation that’s rapidly gaining popularity in an era when playtime for both children and adults has become excessively passive and dominated by surfing the net, playing computer games or staying glued to
When today’s kids show up at a municipal swimming pool for a day of fun and excitement, they’re not looking to swim laps.
To be sure, the standard for what can be called “aquatic fun” has been set pretty high in recent years by huge water theme parks, with their wave pools and whitewater rides and huge, twisting, open-flume slides. Nowadays, older “flat-water pools” just can’t compete for summertime attention among active, thrill-seeking children – except in one arena.
Indeed, the availability these days of
As a designer and artist, I believe that water and glass walk hand in hand: Both are transparent and translucent. They distort and reflect surrounding colors and forms. And depending upon whom you ask, water and glass are both liquids.
The visual and physical resonance between these two fascinating materials is important to me: I know that their interplay adds an entirely different dimension to my work that enhances the effects I can achieve using glass, metal and ceramics, so I’m always eager to explore artistic solutions when my customers want the project to include water.
In this article, I’ll examine three of my projects that use water to accentuate and reflect the sculpture while providing the soothing sounds that create an overall feeling of peacefulness in the surrounding space. But first, a bit more about what I do – and how I do it.
AHEAD OF THE GLASS
As with many forms of sculpture, working with glass requires technical know-how and, like many modern artists, I have acquired a background in construction and fabrication techniques.
Back in school my
Long a fixture in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the Conservatory of Flowers is one of the most photographed structures in a city famous for picturesque beauty.
At 125 years old, the facility is the oldest surviving public conservatory in the western hemisphere. Originally built in 1878 and then rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1883, it’s also an architectural and engineering treasure – an extremely rare example of a prefabricated Victorian-era structure that had withstood the test of time. In 1995, however, a severe storm caused extensive damage and led city building officials to deem it unsafe for public use.
Despite that decision, a dedicated group of paid staff and volunteers doggedly maintained and managed the site and its plants in a gallant effort to stave off further degradation, all with the hope that someday the Conservatory would be restored. They bit off no small challenge, as many of the facility’s “botanical residents” are difficult and expensive to maintain – including a 100-year-old Philodendron with five-foot tall leaves that fills much of the space beneath the Conservatory’s towering central glass dome.
The ongoing campaign to save
It’s striking and even awe-inspiring to observe the ways in which water can shape a desert. Probably the most spectacular example of this phenomenon to be found anywhere on the planet – and unquestionably the most prominent hydrological feature of Arizona’s landscape – is the winding course the Colorado River takes through the Grand Canyon it created.
The terrain surrounding Pointe South Mountain Resort in Phoenix is another special creation that draws much of its character and interest from the presence of
The Light and Space Movement first emerged in the beachfront community of Venice, Calif., during the 1960s, when a group of artists collectively began to explore and redefine the way art was observed and appreciated.
Leaders of the movement – painter and sculptor Eric Orr; Robert Irwin, who later designed the gardens at the Getty Center in Los Angeles; and environmental artist James Turrell – started by breaking down the transformative processes of art and minimalism, defining the character of their movement through
Just as few sounds blend so beautifully or evoke such sensations of peace and calm as the sweet tones of birds singing along with the relaxing music of moving water, I’d also have to say that few sights in nature delight the eye more than watching migrating robins queuing up for a bath, hummingbirds darting through a mist or a bold vireo “plunge bathing” in a rippling pool.
For most of my life, I’ve been inspired to observe the beauty and freedom of birds and am among those who have spent hours in the wild hoping to catch a glimpse of a
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The fire came swiftly, sweeping through the dry, late-summer undergrowth, and the land was quickly blackened and denuded. A month later, the rains came, hard and lashing, and rivulets of water ran down the hillside. Torrents of mud and stone ground away the soil and washed out the base of a tree that happened to be in the way.
The tree fell. Branches became splinters on the ground. The noise the tree had made as it fell was intense: a cracking and groaning sound followed by crackles as limbs snapped against still-standing trees. Now it lay there, its roots all but pulled from the ground.
Ten years passed, and as the tree’s bark rotted, small saplings had begun to grow from its base. The creek ran close by, gurgling and never-ending, its water wending its way among the rocks and other fallen trees toward the ocean just half a mile away. This tree would serve a purpose in its death: In my work as a sculptor, I seek out