WaterShapes

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Getting in Step

1-22 travelogue art 0By Jim McCloskey

I hesitated in starting the New Year with a Travelogue about a class of watershape that is located beyond easy reach of most readers and is, in addition, one I’ve never seen personally.  But I ran across a reference to these structures a couple days ago, and I just can’t get them out of my mind.

Many times in the past, WaterShapes has mentioned the fact that, hundreds

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Preserving History

200405SR0By Stephanie Rose

Here in America, our idea of history goes back only so far.

That’s particularly true in southern California, where “older” architecture is anything before about 1960 and very few structures date to a time before 1920.  But it’s also the case for most of the rest of the country with reference to architecture:  We don’t have the “ancient” structures that still set the tone and architectural vocabulary the way they do in Europe, Asia and other places.

For those who prefer modern or contemporary styles, this lack of history may be irrelevant.  For those who feel an affinity to older styles, however, there’s a tendency to cringe every time an older house is torn down to

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Frosted Plumes

12-18 travelogue art 1 dreamstime xs 29269390--Alexei Poselenov  Dreamstime.comBy Jim McCloskey

The cold snap that gripped huge parts of the country earlier this month put me in mind of one of my favorite things – and I feel deprived, because I’ve never lived in a place where such things happen.

Back in 1984, Judy and I took a train trip across Canada from Vancouver to Banff.  It was November and brutally cold by the time we reached our destination, but we braved the wind and snow to do a bit of hiking in the beautiful terrain near Lake Louise – just breathtaking, both literally and figuratively.

While walking along a stream, we came across a cascade that started about ten feet over our heads.  It had frozen over for the most part, and I recall the hollow resonance of the water flowing rapidly behind the waterfall’s blue-white armor – a sound I’ve never forgotten.  But the visual effect!  I’ve always been a big fan of the Catalonian architect Antoni Gaudí, and there’s something about the

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Classical Influences

For many years, watershaper/teacher/provocateur David Tisherman has urged his colleagues to get out and explore the world.  Actually seeing architecture, art and ancient ruins in their own contexts, he says, is a sure-fire way to develop a sense of your place in design history and to inspire your own design ideas – a point he drives home by leading us around Asia Minor and discussing what he sees in light of his own work in the here and now.
For many years, watershaper/teacher/provocateur David Tisherman has urged his colleagues to get out and explore the world. Actually seeing architecture, art and ancient ruins in their own contexts, he says, is a sure-fire way to develop a sense of your place in design history and to inspire your own design ideas – a point he drives home by leading us around Asia Minor and discussing what he sees in light of his own work in the here and now.
By David Tisherman

It’s a point I’ll probably make to the end of my days:  There is no substitute for travel and exploration of the historic world to learn about design.

In my “Details” column in the June 2005 issue of WaterShapes, for example, I discussed my recent trip to Turkey and made the point that the ruins and intact structures we examined while there were full of specific details that I and other watershapers use in our work – whether or not we recognize that what we’re doing actually derives from ancient original works.  

Showing what I mean in the clearest possible terms is what this pictorial article is all about.  As you will see, I’ve included

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Turkey Revisited

200506DT0By David Tisherman

It’s a truism that almost all contemporary works of art are derivative:  The ideas have already been expressed in one way or another at some point in history, and all we can succeed in doing is to apply those enduring forms as creatively as we can.

We can’t invent the wheel, but we can redraw it, embellish it, place it in context and, in our own ways, improve upon it through the choices we make in using it.  To be effective in that sort of downstream effort as watershapers, it is essential that we understand the nature and origins of the basic building blocks of aquatic design.

For years, people have asked me where I get my ideas – pools raised out of the ground, the small spillways, the drain details, the modular deck treatments, the color usage and the use of reflection, to name just a few.  “Through my design education” is the short answer, of course, but I can get more specific if we

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Recent comments

  • Had such a great time, I've been back to Turkey twice since this trip. Planning another trip next year (2016). Anyone interested - drop me a line at [email protected]
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Inside a Classic Style

Among all of the popular architectural, landscape and watershaping styles, few have either the history or persistence of the Spanish Colonial Revival, which burst on the scene early in the 20th Century and continues to this day to define huge swaths of the contemporary suburban scene.  Here, watershaper and design historian Mark Holden traces the style’s roots, defines its main features and explores its special relevance to watershapers.
Among all of the popular architectural, landscape and watershaping styles, few have either the history or persistence of the Spanish Colonial Revival, which burst on the scene early in the 20th Century and continues to this day to define huge swaths of the contemporary suburban scene. Here, watershaper and design historian Mark Holden traces the style’s roots, defines its main features and explores its special relevance to watershapers.
By Mark Holden

The history of residential architecture took a real turn toward mass production with the emergence of the modern suburb early in the 20th Century.  Especially in the years after World War II, middleclass families increasingly left urban congestion behind and headed for open outlying areas where developers were hard at work in preparation for their arrival.

Some developers put distinct stylistic stamps on the neighborhoods and communities they were building.  Among the most popular and recognizable of these  styles was the Spanish Colonial Revival – a look that has special prominence on the West Coast but that has surfaced throughout the United States and in places as far flung as Europe and China.  

This style is so popular and has been used so much in so many variations that it is, these days, tough to nail down exactly what is or is not true to early Spanish Colonial motifs and ideas.  That’s not surprising, because this malleable style itself represents a cobbling together of ideas borrowed from Roman, Islamic and even Native American cultures.

Those deep roots, coupled with a scattering of design focus that has blurred borders and distinctions and any sense of stylistic purity, makes it tough for 21st-century watershapers and other designers to

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A Villa for the Ages

Reopened in January 2006 after a nine-year renovation project, the Getty Villa in Malibu, Calif., has now resumed its role as host to what may be the world’s greatest private collection of Greco-Roman antiquities.  With its classic architecture, subtle gardens and elegant watershapes – not to mention great views of the Pacific Ocean – the facility is both a state-of-the-art museum and a designed space that links the distant past to the present day.
Reopened in January 2006 after a nine-year renovation project, the Getty Villa in Malibu, Calif., has now resumed its role as host to what may be the world’s greatest private collection of Greco-Roman antiquities. With its classic architecture, subtle gardens and elegant watershapes – not to mention great views of the Pacific Ocean – the facility is both a state-of-the-art museum and a designed space that links the distant past to the present day.
By Eric Herman

For the typical visitor, the newly-reopened Getty Villa is perhaps the most exquisite of all possible venues for viewing ancient works of art and craft – reason enough to plan a visit.  For students of architecture and design, however, there’s much more, particularly the opportunity to immerse yourself in the living, breathing environment of a classic Roman villa and its abundant amenities.

The Getty Villa site encompasses 64 acres of a rugged canyon rising above the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, Calif., and was once home to oil tycoon J. Paul Getty.  A fanatical collector of Greco-Roman antiquities, he dedicated part of his original ranch-style home as a public museum in 1954.  By 1974, less than a year before his death, he had completed and opened the original Villa on another part of the estate, realizing his ambition of creating a public monument dedicated to the arts.  

The Villa’s layout was inspired by the Villa dei Papiri, a first-century country house in Pompeii buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.  It was Getty’s vision to display his collection in a setting evocative of its contents’ historic origins and he realized it, but there were compromises:  The spaces were crowded, and the works on display also included samples of paintings and craftworks of much more recent vintage – Renaissance masters, baroque furnishings and other distinctly non-classical artworks.

The Villa closed in 1997 at about the same time the

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Olympian Aspirations

11-20 travelogue art 1By Jim McCloskey

Business and pleasure have carried me to Atlanta more times than I can count through the past 30 years. On many of those occasions, I attended trade shows in the Georgia World Congress Center and found myself with enough time on my hands that I was able to enjoy Centennial Park, where people from all over the world once gathered to celebrate the Olympic Games of  1996.

I’d seen this area before the Olympiad, and I must say that the degree to which the city remade itself to host this international showcase event is truly remarkable.  Particularly welcomed is the abovementioned Centennial Park, a broad, open space that I’ve strolled through often enough that it feels a bit like home.  I am persistently intrigued by the Fountain of Rings, the park’s big, interactive waterfeature.

Lots of times, I’ve seen the fountain teeming with kids running wild through varied jets of water, but on several occasions the timing’s been right and I’ve caught one of the choreographed shows set to music of many descriptions.  This fountain, some say, is the precursor to

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Amazing Grace

Fallingwater is one of the world’s most photographed and studied residences:  Frank Lloyd Wright’s sublime and inspired interweaving of architecture, forest and water has a grandeur that has never been matched in the more than six decades since its completion.  Here, watershape designer and Wright enthusiast David Tisherman salutes this remarkable achievement and the man who redefined architecture for the 20th Century – and beyond.
Fallingwater is one of the world’s most photographed and studied residences: Frank Lloyd Wright’s sublime and inspired interweaving of architecture, forest and water has a grandeur that has never been matched in the more than six decades since its completion. Here, watershape designer and Wright enthusiast David Tisherman salutes this remarkable achievement and the man who redefined architecture for the 20th Century – and beyond.
By David Tisherman

It’s one of the most famous buildings in the world, but few people know that Frank Lloyd Wright designed Fallingwater in a matter of hours.

In 1935, when Wright first received the commission to design and build a vacation home for Pittsburgh retail tycoon Edgar J. Kaufman and his family in Mill Run, Pa., he didn’t get to the project right away.  After several months of preliminary discussions and delays, Kaufman decided to force the issue, telephoning the architect and saying that he was going to visit Wright’s studio to see what had been done.

It was at that point Wright decided he’d better design the house.  He had a weekend.

The construction process was no more direct, but it took longer.  Work began in 1936 and was completed by 1939 in a series of costly fits and starts.  The project was originally set to cost in the neighborhood of $40,000, but the final tally rose to nearly ten times that amount – not inconsiderable in post-Depression America.  

The result of the dramatic (and, at times, traumatic) process of design and construction is nothing less than one of the greatest achievements in American architecture, a work so compelling that it never stops

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A Fair to Remember

10-23 travelogue art 0By Jim McCloskey

I started to appreciate the fact that my Aunt Genevieve was one of the coolest women in the whole wide world in the Spring of 1964.

In the days just after the New York World’s Fair opened that April – while the networks and newspapers were still agog about one pavilion or another and how amazing the whole scene was – she sent a small package to me in California containing an embossed, gold-leafed invitation, a fair ticket and a keychain with a medal depicting the Unisphere attached to it.

Even at eight years old, I knew my aunt was

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Garden Grandeur

Recognized far and wide as one of the world’s greatest horticultural achievements, the 1,050 acres of Longwood Gardens offer a showcase for a dizzying array of plants, trees, architectures, themed garden spaces and elaborate fountains.  In this special feature, watershaper, landscape artist and local resident Robert Nonemaker traces the history of this extraordinary property – with a special focus on its ingenious watershapes.
Recognized far and wide as one of the world’s greatest horticultural achievements, the 1,050 acres of Longwood Gardens offer a showcase for a dizzying array of plants, trees, architectures, themed garden spaces and elaborate fountains. In this special feature, watershaper, landscape artist and local resident Robert Nonemaker traces the history of this extraordinary property – with a special focus on its ingenious watershapes.
By Robert Nonemaker

In pre-Colonial days, the neck of the woods now known as Longwood Gardens was a hunting ground for the Lenni Lenape tribe, who prized the area for the richness of its game and timber.

Once the British arrived, the land moved under the control of William Penn, founder (and namesake) of Pennsylvania, who sold it to a Quaker family by the name of Pierce in the year 1700.  The family farmed the property until 1798, when Joshua and Samuel Pierce began planting an arboretum and the space that would one day become Longwood Gardens was born.

Those of us living in the Philadelphia area have long enjoyed the privilege of having this resource in nearby Kennett Square, Pa.  It’s an amazing place, and I find my way there often because it seems that each time I go, there’s something

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The Enchanted Hill

The Crown Jewel of California’s central coast, Hearst Castle is among the most public of all ‘private’ residences on the planet.  Its Neptune and Roman pools are among the most photographed, published and familiar watershapes in the world – so prominent that the estate’s brilliant fountains simply don’t get their due.  Here, designer and builder Skip Phillips shifts the emphasis a bit, paying tribute to all of Hearst Castle’s watershapes, drop by drop.
The Crown Jewel of California’s central coast, Hearst Castle is among the most public of all ‘private’ residences on the planet. Its Neptune and Roman pools are among the most photographed, published and familiar watershapes in the world – so prominent that the estate’s brilliant fountains simply don’t get their due. Here, designer and builder Skip Phillips shifts the emphasis a bit, paying tribute to all of Hearst Castle’s watershapes, drop by drop.
By Skip Phillips

Visiting Hearst Castle is an experience that sticks with you.  Long before I became a watershape designer, I know that my childhood visits to this hilltop in Central California inspired and affected my thinking about art and architecture and the creative use of space long before I had any professional interest in those subjects.  

Every time I go – which is as often as I can – I’m impressed by a collection of art and architecture so rich and varied that I always find something new.  

For years, I’ve been amazed by the castle’s two pools and their beautiful details, incredible tile and classic style.  More recently, however, I’ve started paying closer attention to the other ways in which water is used on the property – and my appreciation for what I’m seeing grows every time I stop by.

A BIT OF HISTORY

William Randolph Hearst inherited the 250,000-acre ranch on which the castle was built from his mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, in 1919.  The remote property hadn’t seen much development to that point, but he soon began transforming it into a monument to American ambition and his passion for

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The Illuminating Past

200807MH0By Mark Holden

What’s the use of knowing about history?

For many of us, the answer to that question seems so obvious that it comes as a shock to find out just how many people in the watershaping and landscape fields don’t grasp the all-encompassing significance of our collective past – but it shouldn’t.

Using my own career as an example – and even though I now spend a considerable amount of my time teaching professionals and university students all about art and architectural history – I confess that I waltzed through more than a few early years as an aspiring landscape architect and watershaper in blissful ignorance of

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