WaterShapes

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

Earth, Air, Light and Water

Watershapes intended to teach children (and their adult companions) about basic forces of nature stand at the heart of an innovative landscape program on the campus of the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vt.  As designed by Boston’s Copley Wolff Design Group, the grounds around the museum now features an array of unique water effects that are beautiful, entertaining, informative and delightful.
Watershapes intended to teach children (and their adult companions) about basic forces of nature stand at the heart of an innovative landscape program on the campus of the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vt. As designed by Boston’s Copley Wolff Design Group, the grounds around the museum now features an array of unique water effects that are beautiful, entertaining, informative and delightful.
By Jane Shoplick

Teaching children about the science associated with the natural elements of earth, air, light and water in an imaginative, fun and engaging way is one of the key missions of modern museums of science.  Conveying those concepts through a landscape, however, is a unique and ambitious goal – one we suggested to the directors of Montshire Museum of Science of Norwich, Vt., as a way of transforming the museum’s grounds from ordinary exhibit space into a true laboratory for learning.  

During all of the early discussions of types of natural phenomena Montshire wanted us to explore, museum representatives always seemed most excited about those associated with water.  They agreed with us that water exhibits could teach children about wonders as diverse as stream erosion and deposition, the reflection and absorption of light, how the pattern of water currents and flow velocities are affected by the size and shape of the water’s container, how the pressure of water increases as its depth increases, and how the air temperature cools as one

Read more: Earth, Air, Light and Water

Helping Habitats

Clean, clear water is crucial for most watershapes, but when the vessel’s purpose is to house and nurture rescued and injured marine animals, says Pentair’s Mike Fowler, the need for top-quality water is even greater.  Here, he describes how his company’s pool filters came to be used at an animal rehabilitation facility in Florida, where they now ensure that dolphins, sea turtles and more are nursed back to health and trained in crystalline water.
Clean, clear water is crucial for most watershapes, but when the vessel’s purpose is to house and nurture rescued and injured marine animals, says Pentair’s Mike Fowler, the need for top-quality water is even greater. Here, he describes how his company’s pool filters came to be used at an animal rehabilitation facility in Florida, where they now ensure that dolphins, sea turtles and more are nursed back to health and trained in crystalline water.
By Mike Fowler

It was a rainy Wednesday morning in January when I first toured the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  I was on hand to inspect the recent installation of a pair of our horizontal sand filters for the facility’s marine-mammal pool and see just how well the pool-filtration products were faring in this somewhat unusual (but not unheard of) application.  

Located on Island Estates in Clearwater, Fla., the aquarium was bustling with activity from the moment the doors opened at 9 a.m.  On this day, a group of pre-school children had arrived to see the aquarium’s newest dolphin, Presley, and his friend, Panama.  The staff also explained to me that the aquarium, like other indoor attractions, is always busier when the rain falls.  I joined right in with the crowd, fascinated by everything I was seeing.

My guide, the aquarium’s director of life support and marine facilities, Bill Meier, led me to the marine mammal pool – currently home to Presley and Panama but with the capacity to hold several more.  This was the vessel on which my company, Pentair Pool Products of Sanford, N.C., had installed the sand filters.  As I watched the children’s faces as they in turn watched the dolphins, I began to realize that we were

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Fair Memories: Kerry Friedman’s and Mike Perkowski’s Platinum Standard Project

b_400_400_16777215_00_images_archart_200412Platinum_20041224Friedman_24A.jpgWatershaping advanced by leaps and bounds from 1999 through 2004 – a journey of artistry and practicality that was an inspiration to witness.  In this retrospective feature, WaterShapes Editor Eric Herman reviews 25 key projects published during that time frame, offering an ongoing resource to watershapers while defining a Platinum Standard for the designers, engineers, builders and artists who use water as their chosen medium.

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Kerry Friedman & Mike Perkowski
HydroDramtics
St. Louis, Mo.

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Site of the 1904 World’s Fair, Forest Park in St. Louis boasts a number of historic features, among them the newly restored Grand Basin.  Essentially a lake ringed with fountains, the facility is a favorite of visitors who take to the water in small boats.  The restoration work performed by fountain specialists at HydroDramatics was sensitive to the original aesthetics of the facility, but the technology they applied – mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and structural – was strictly up to the minute.

Playful Paradise: Steve Kaiser’s Platinum Standard Project

b_400_400_16777215_00_images_archart_200412Platinum_20041222Kaiser_22A.jpgWatershaping advanced by leaps and bounds from 1999 through 2004 – a journey of artistry and practicality that was an inspiration to witness.  In this retrospective feature, WaterShapes Editor Eric Herman reviews 25 key projects published during that time frame, offering an ongoing resource to watershapers while defining a Platinum Standard for the designers, engineers, builders and artists who use water as their chosen medium.


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Steve Kaiser
Kerzner International
Nassau, Bahamas

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The resort known as Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas unveils one of the planet’s most extensive and ambitious uses of water in a recreational setting.  Encompassing multiple swimming pools, waterslides, fountains and immense marine exhibits, the project was six years in the making and involved an international team of designers and technicians.  And as project manager Steve Kaiser reports, they aren’t finished yet:  The next phase will include even more elaborate watershapes and amenities.

Liquid Textures: John Luebtow’s Platinum Standard Project

b_400_400_16777215_00_images_archart_200412Platinum_2004124Luebtow_4A.jpgWatershaping advanced by leaps and bounds from 1999 through 2004 – a journey of artistry and practicality that was an inspiration to witness.  In this retrospective feature, WaterShapes Editor Eric Herman reviews 25 key projects published during that time frame, offering an ongoing resource to watershapers while defining a Platinum Standard for the designers, engineers, builders and artists who use water as their chosen medium.

 

 

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John Luebtow
Chatsworth, Calif.

 

 

Sculptor John Luebtow is well known for working in slumped, etched-glass panels and shimmering steel.  This piece, commissioned as part of a backyard revision that also featured an artful pool and spa, includes three glass panels that echo and reflect forms used in the watershapes.  The curved glass distorts and interprets the surrounding views and greenery as visitors move through the space, and the entire sculpture is reflected from below by its own perimeter-overflow, black-granite pool.

Living Art

The process of creating watershapes and landscapes is more than a simple exercise in orchestrating aesthetics, say rock designer Philip di Giacomo and watershaper Mark Holden.  To these like-minded professionals, the purpose of their art is to conjure overt and subliminal perceptions in the hearts and minds of those who move through the spaces they establish – an ambition that lets their work influence not only individuals, but society at large.
The process of creating watershapes and landscapes is more than a simple exercise in orchestrating aesthetics, say rock designer Philip di Giacomo and watershaper Mark Holden. To these like-minded professionals, the purpose of their art is to conjure overt and subliminal perceptions in the hearts and minds of those who move through the spaces they establish – an ambition that lets their work influence not only individuals, but society at large.
By Philip di Giacomo & Mark Holden

To those who see art as frivolous and ultimately unnecessary and expendable, we offer as a counterweight the following from Austrian poet, Ernst Fisher:  “Art is a driving force in bringing humankind to greater quality of life, and it is therefore an absolute cultural necessity.”

For the artist, tremendous responsibility comes with that necessity.  Indeed, those who expose others to art bear a burden in shaping entire cultures as people around them come to accept their artistic output as essential threads in the social fabric.  Think of Brunelleschi in Renaissance Florence, for example, or Gaudi in modern Barcelona.

When we as watershape or landscape designers seek to expose others to our works of art, we accept a profound moral responsibility whether we work in the public or the private domain.  At its core, our responsibility is to seek and communicate truth.  As we see it, one and all who fall under the broad umbrella of the watershaping arts should be

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Good Medicine

The watershapes that literally embrace the McKay-Dee Hospital Center in Ogden, Utah, were crucial to the success of the facility’s self-consciously relaxing, curative environment, says Derk Hebdon, president of Salt Lake City’s Bratt Water Features.  Highlighted by a 65-foot water plume and a soothing, 170-foot-wide sheet waterfall, the complex was designed with the needs of patients, visitors, staff and the community very much in mind.
The watershapes that literally embrace the McKay-Dee Hospital Center in Ogden, Utah, were crucial to the success of the facility’s self-consciously relaxing, curative environment, says Derk Hebdon, president of Salt Lake City’s Bratt Water Features. Highlighted by a 65-foot water plume and a soothing, 170-foot-wide sheet waterfall, the complex was designed with the needs of patients, visitors, staff and the community very much in mind.
By Derk Hebdon

Built to function and compete in an era when marketing matters for healthcare facilities, the McKay-Dee Hospital Center was designed to create a soothing, supportive, healing environment for patients, visitors and staff – so much so that the center looks more like a resort hotel than a medical institution.  

The architecture is open and soaring, offering sweeping views from interior spaces set up for comfort and restfulness.  Designed by Jeff Stouffler of HKS Architects of Dallas, the structure is organized around a four-story atrium that runs the length of the building, offering clear lines of sight not only to distant mountain and valley views, but also to nearby landscapes graced with winding paths and beautiful watershapes.  

The opening of the 690,000-square-foot facility on March 25, 2002, was accompanied by great public fanfare.  As people in the community have embraced and begun to seek care there, it’s been a point of pride for us at Bratt Water Features to know that the beautiful curving lake that wraps around the exterior of the gleaming building is one of the things people see, enjoy and appreciate the most.

BROAD SCOPE

Our job was to build all of watershapes, including seven small fountains and the big lake system, based on designs prepared by Waterscape Consultants of Houston and by landscape architect James Burnett, also of Houston.  As bidders on the installation contract in 1999, we had the advantage of being a local firm – but we also brought extensive experience with large-scale public waterfeatures to the table.

And this project was big.  As far as anyone on the design team knows, this is the largest waterfeature/fountain complex ever built in the state of Utah.  We refer affectionately to the feature as “Bullwinkle” because, when seen from overhead, its oddly symmetrical free-form shape casts a silhouette resembling the cartoon moose’s head and antlers.  

The antlers wrap around the footprint of the west end of the building, with the nose stretching away from hospital to create a broad lake with a towering geyser at the far end.  The 175-foot-wide, 500-foot-long watershape features a 170-foot-long waterfall between the antlers and the crown of Bullwinkle’s head that faces an outdoor pavilion/eating area served by an indoor café.

The water falls four feet into a teardrop-shaped lower pond that serves as a catch basin – and which turned out to be critical to

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Islands Afloat

Fascinated by floating islands, author and natural historian Chet Van Duzer sees them as a special window into the relationships among water, earth, flora, fauna and even humankind.  As he explains here, these buoyant masses, which are largely unfamiliar even to those who study nature and the geological, biological and hydrological sciences, offer a laboratory full of ideas to watershapers interested in replicating truly natural water systems.  (Photo:  Postcard of floating islands in Orange Lake, Fla., from the author’s collection)
Fascinated by floating islands, author and natural historian Chet Van Duzer sees them as a special window into the relationships among water, earth, flora, fauna and even humankind. As he explains here, these buoyant masses, which are largely unfamiliar even to those who study nature and the geological, biological and hydrological sciences, offer a laboratory full of ideas to watershapers interested in replicating truly natural water systems. (Photo: Postcard of floating islands in Orange Lake, Fla., from the author’s collection)
By Chet Van Duzer

The very existence of floating islands seems counterintuitive.  Are there really chunks of earth solid enough to support our weight while drifting over the surface of a body of water?  Can these floating masses even support the weight of trees, animals or even human dwellings?

The fact is that floating islands do exist on six of the seven continents and sometimes on the oceans between.  Some do have trees growing on them and do support the weight of humans (and even grazing cattle).  Some are, in fact, hundreds of feet across and are called “home” by their inhabitants.  

These naturally occurring, waterborne vessels embody a fascinating subset of natural observation and are generally unknown – even though they

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Sealing the Deal

The brand-new Wynn Hotel on the storied Las Vegas Strip encompasses a range of elaborate watershapes – lakes, fountains, a rock-waterfall mountain and a host of pools and spas – as well as multiple rooftop environments.  In all cases, the reliability of waterproofing systems was of crucial importance, notes Tim Eorgan of Carlisle Coatings & Waterproofing, the firm charged with providing damage-preventive solutions for the city’s newest crown jewel.  (Photo by Robert Miller/Wynn Las Vegas)
The brand-new Wynn Hotel on the storied Las Vegas Strip encompasses a range of elaborate watershapes – lakes, fountains, a rock-waterfall mountain and a host of pools and spas – as well as multiple rooftop environments. In all cases, the reliability of waterproofing systems was of crucial importance, notes Tim Eorgan of Carlisle Coatings & Waterproofing, the firm charged with providing damage-preventive solutions for the city’s newest crown jewel. (Photo by Robert Miller/Wynn Las Vegas)
By Tim Eorgan

The latest generation of Las Vegas hotels and casinos offers an amazing showcase for pools, fountains and watershapes of every shape and size.  In fact, for many such properties, the presence of these increasingly imaginative watershapes is crucial to defining their appeal for huge numbers of guests and visitors.

As these properties and their watershapes have become more elaborate and unconventional, they’ve presented designers, engineers and builders with greater and greater technical challenges – many of them carried in the plain fact that water can inflict a great deal of damage on these facilities if it is not properly contained and controlled.  

In our end of the watershaping trades, the visual and sensory arms race has challenged the waterproofing industry to step up to the plate and manage the integrity of every nook and cranny of every vessel, be it wide or narrow, curved or straight, below-grade or

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Glass Works

Exploring the synergy among glass, light and water is what SWON Design is all about.  From their roots as glass blowers and neon artists, the firm’s founders, Michael Batchelor and Andrey Berezowsky, have branched out to create elaborate, vivid sculptures for architectural and landscape settings that reflect their interest in developing shapes, colors and textures that both complement and accentuate the surroundings in which they appear.
Exploring the synergy among glass, light and water is what SWON Design is all about. From their roots as glass blowers and neon artists, the firm’s founders, Michael Batchelor and Andrey Berezowsky, have branched out to create elaborate, vivid sculptures for architectural and landscape settings that reflect their interest in developing shapes, colors and textures that both complement and accentuate the surroundings in which they appear.
By Michael Batchelor & Andrey Berezowsky

All artists and designers have to come from somewhere, creatively speaking.  In our case, we came to watershaping via the world of glass arts and crafts, a starting place that led us first to create unusual sculptures in glass and light – and then to carry our work out into landscapes and especially into settings that feature water.

In collaborating mostly with architects and landscape architects and designers, we at SWON Design in Montreal have found what we believe to be an incredibly rich vein of aesthetic potential.  Indeed, we have come through the years to recognize with greater and greater profundity that water

Read more: Glass Works

Recent comments

  • Love the shapes and colours of the designs
  • PURE MAGIC! Land of the imagination and transformational experience. Yet, Practical, evokes a new world of light, glass and water. It contrasts well with nature and natural processes. I see even greater possibilities for whole structures to actually walk through, live in a landscape of lighted for...
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Water in Sculpture

The works of sculptor David Curt Morris often combine moving water with simple yet striking shapes in glass or metal.  His meticulous compositions speak to observers by juxtaposing the kinetic potential of water against static structures – perhaps something as simple as water flowing over glass surfaces – to exploit what he calls the ‘colors’ of water in motion in a philosophy and a design approach that cuts to the essence of what watershaping is all about.
The works of sculptor David Curt Morris often combine moving water with simple yet striking shapes in glass or metal. His meticulous compositions speak to observers by juxtaposing the kinetic potential of water against static structures – perhaps something as simple as water flowing over glass surfaces – to exploit what he calls the ‘colors’ of water in motion in a philosophy and a design approach that cuts to the essence of what watershaping is all about.
By David Curt Morris

I’m particularly interested in the behavior of water.

To me as a sculptor, differing water flows and their textures are like “colors” to a painter:  I find a color that holds meaning for me and then look for a structural form that can present it.  To this extent, my artistic medium is the behavior of water and the means to make it behave.  The sculpture in this case is water combined with a structure in steel, stone and equipment.

The work is abstract:  abstractions of feelings related to the movement of people, animals, fish and the flows of water in streams, rivers, rain – even the flow of numbers.  As a result, I need metaphors and feelings to drive my creative expressions, then use water and other sculptural elements in much the same way a choreographer might use line and gesture to express a feeling or a composer will use chord changes and musical phrasing.  

My hope is that, in creating forms that are meaningful to me, other

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Island Life

Searching for an effective and natural way to improve water quality in both man-made and natural bodies of water, inventor Bruce Kania turned to the experiences of a childhood spent exploring and fishing in the waters of the upper Midwest.  Inspired by the diversity and sheer wildness of the natural, floating islands that can occur there, he’s developed a system that not only enhances water quality but also provides a haven for wildlife.
Searching for an effective and natural way to improve water quality in both man-made and natural bodies of water, inventor Bruce Kania turned to the experiences of a childhood spent exploring and fishing in the waters of the upper Midwest. Inspired by the diversity and sheer wildness of the natural, floating islands that can occur there, he’s developed a system that not only enhances water quality but also provides a haven for wildlife.
By Bruce Kania

So often, the art and science of invention begins with the study and appreciation of nature.

While growing up in Wisconsin, I was repeatedly exposed to the naturally occurring islands often found floating on bodies of water amid the conifers in the northern, peat-bog region of the state.  I couldn’t help noticing that these islands were exactly the best places to go fishing.  They were just terrific, presenting a structure under and around which fish, for whatever reason, loved to spend their time.

Moreover, every floating island I’ve seen in nature is host to all sorts of flowering plants including American Speedwell, Monkey Flower, Blue Flag and even examples of the few native varieties of North American wild orchids along with incredible varieties of other broad-leaf plants, grasses and even trees.  In many cases, I’ve seen species that don’t abound in the surrounding environment but

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Progressive Surprise

Set in an affluent neighborhood in Cherry Hill, N.J., this project offered the Liquid Designs team a golden opportunity to transform a dull, aimless front yard into a sublimely beautiful and uniquely engaging environment.  Here, designers David Tisherman and Kevin Fleming share a few words and a number of photographs that show just what they were after in using water, plants and masonry to exploit the power and drama of surprise.
Set in an affluent neighborhood in Cherry Hill, N.J., this project offered the Liquid Designs team a golden opportunity to transform a dull, aimless front yard into a sublimely beautiful and uniquely engaging environment. Here, designers David Tisherman and Kevin Fleming share a few words and a number of photographs that show just what they were after in using water, plants and masonry to exploit the power and drama of surprise.
By David Tisherman & Kevin Fleming

There’s something in human nature that loves the unexpected.  From pulling open gifts wrapped in paper, ribbons and bows to the thrill of rounding a forest trail to come upon a waterfall, the sense of anticipation and discovery adds spice to life and generally keeps things interesting.

As designers of watershapes and landscapes, we have a tremendous opportunityto use the excitement that comes along with the process of progressively experiencing an environment.  And the nice thing about setting up spaces that unfold as you move through them is that they can be organized around simple elements, from free-standing walls, steps or hedges to trees, fences and just about anything else thatpartially blocks, disrupts or interrupts a view.

This project, which was first covered in “Details” in the December 2004 issue, is a perfect example of using a sense of

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