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An Emergent Profession
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An Emergent Profession

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WaterShapes LogotypeEric Herman

As I was graduating from college many years ago, one of my professors predicted that more than 30 percent of us would eventually hold jobs that hadn’t been invented yet. With the emergence of the Internet and other mass-communication technologies in recent years, I’d be hard pressed to think he was anything but conservative with his forecast.

It’s exciting to think we live at a time when new vocations are constantly emerging to provide us with ever-broadening sets of employment options. And it’s exciting to point out that one of these new professions – that of the watershape-design consultant – has surfaced in our industry just within the short span of years in which this magazine has been published.

Our own Brian Van Bower is someone who gravitated to and has in some ways defined this profession. Indeed, he now works entirely in a consulting capacity.

As recently as 1999, when we launched WaterShapes, he was still working as a contractor as well as a designer. In the intervening years, however, he recognized a growing demand for design-only consultation and (at no small risk) stepped entirely away from contracting. His gamble paid off, and he now consults worldwide in scores of residential and commercial projects annually.

He tells this story in greater detail in his “Aqua Culture” column for this issue (click here). It’s an insider’s look at a growing niche within the business of watershaping and makes a compelling case that there’s much more to come as we watch this new profession grow to maturity.

From my perspective, the advent of watershape consultancies can only be viewed as a positive: On the one hand, I see the demand for such expertise among architects, designers and property owners as evidence of the growing sophistication of watershaping across the spectrum of project types. On the other, I see this new profession as being capable of leading the entire industry to a new creative focus on clients’ needs and wants with respect to style, innovation, quality and execution.

I welcome this as another step toward elevating the appreciation of watershapes within the greater design community and helping us leave behind the impression that designing a pool or fountain or waterfeature involves little more than making a blue squiggle on a flat plan. It’s never been that simple, of course, but for ages watershapes have been dismissed as incidental rather than integral.

The way I see it, Brian and others like him are in the vanguard, and the work they’re doing says a lot about the future – all of it positive.


It’s probably not something any of you could have guessed, but for many years now I’ve wanted to run an article about bridges. I’ve been fascinated by them since I was a kid, and in my years of working with water as my professional focus, I’ve always been interested in the natural relationship between bridges and bodies of water of every size and description.

Despite that interest, however, I could never connect the dots and come up with a good story to tell – until recently at the American Society of Landscape Architects’ expo in Florida, where I met Dan Moosman and finally saw a way to make bridges more than an incidental part of a story about a pond, stream or pool.

Dan is a wonderful artist and woodworker whose bridges feature graceful Arts & Crafts styling. It’s absolutely a case in which his philosophy, practical skills and aesthetic sense align with ours at WaterShapes, as you’ll see for yourselves at long last by clicking here.

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