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Adding three big waterfeatures to a prominent Philadelphia streetscape was a logistical challenge, reports Robert Nonemaker, as was being among the smallest players in a high-stakes project. Handling the pressure took patience -- and a self-reliant approach to project management.
Adding three big waterfeatures to a prominent Philadelphia streetscape was a logistical challenge, reports Robert Nonemaker, as was being among the smallest players in a high-stakes project.  Handling the pressure took patience -- and a self-reliant approach to project management.
By Robert Nonemaker

Among the best things about Philadelphia is its stock of public art – and that’s not accidental:  For many years, all construction projects in specific neighborhoods reaching certain dollar thresholds have been required to include an accessible work of art within their footprints.  Whether it’s a sculpture, a mural, a statue celebrating a Founding Father or a waterfeature, the city now boasts more than 1,000 of these art pieces, each one part of an outstanding cultural and historical landscape.  

One of our recent projects fit within this program:  Located just across the way from Independence Hall, it’s part of a

Getting down to cases, Robert Mikula and Simon Gardiner conclude a two-part series by highlighting three great fountains and discussing how planning for multiple layers of community involvement have resulted in their emergence as indispensable urban resources.
Getting down to cases, Robert Mikula and Simon Gardiner conclude a two-part series by highlighting three great fountains and discussing how planning for multiple layers of community involvement have resulted in their emergence as indispensable urban resources.
By Robert Mikula & Simon Gardiner

When we in the design community follow through with our belief that successful urban spaces must work as gathering spots and community resources for recreation, social interaction and relaxation, all sorts of good things start happening in these environments: Those who initiated the ideas are satisfied with the results; those who designed and built them are empowered to participate in effective, rewarding team processes; and those who use the spaces come back again and again, maintaining a high level of

Working on major projects is always good for company morale, notes Denise Housler. But in this case, the fact that it was a monument meant to commemorate veterans from their own county kicked both their emotions and their desire to nail the details up by several notches.
Working on major projects is always good for company morale, notes Denise Housler.  But in this case, the fact that it was a monument meant to commemorate veterans from their own county kicked both their emotions and their desire to nail the details up by several notches.
By Denise Housler

All of our projects make us proud to be watershapers – but this one stands out among the most satisfying and rewarding of them all.

The Veterans’ Memorial was designed by David Richter of Richter Architects (Corpus Christi, Texas) and sits on prime real estate alongside City Hall in Portland, Texas. Two more Corpus Christi firms – Beecroft Construction and we at Aquaria Services – assembled the monument, which commemorates fallen veterans representing both

The circumstances in which urban fountains are created these days is complex and ever-changing, say Robert Mikula and Simon Gardiner -- a situation they discuss in the first of two articles on building a sense of multi-level participation among key groups of stakeholders.
The circumstances in which urban fountains are created these days is complex and ever-changing, say Robert Mikula and Simon Gardiner -- a situation they discuss in the first of two articles on building a sense of multi-level participation among key groups of stakeholders.
By Robert Mikula & Simon Gardiner

In his 1980 book, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, William H. Whyte described seven elements needed to make urban spaces successful: seating areas, ready street access, sun, the availability of food, the presence of trees, features that promote conversations among strangers and water – particularly in the form of water features and fountains.

As an example of this formulation, there is no more illustrative space than New York’s

 

Emerging technologies have changed the ways designers look at fountains. This makes it an opportune time, writes Robert Mikula, to step back, survey the evolving state of the art and figure out the best ways to make water a must-have component for our public places.
Emerging technologies have changed the ways designers look at fountains.  This makes it an opportune time, writes Robert Mikula, to step back, survey the evolving state of the art and figure out the best ways to make water a must-have component for our public places.
By Robert Mikula

It’s easy to back up an assertion that a good fountain is the key to making a public space work.

A monumental statue is great, for instance, but when you add water even in the quiescent form of a reflecting pool, the visitor’s experience of the installation is enhanced in many ways. And while big, open plazas may serve as ready-made gathering places, if you add even a small fountain, the overall space will be defined by its presence and visitors will inevitably be drawn to it as a focal point.

Public fountains take many forms, but whatever the specifics, their

 

Cascades look great in daylight, but lighting them has always been a challenge -- and Jeff Chapman had three of them on his plate. Fortunately, he also had access to a new LED technology -- a system that made his work just as compelling at night as it is by day.
Cascades look great in daylight, but lighting them has always been a challenge -- and Jeff Chapman had three of them on his plate.  Fortunately, he also had access to a new LED technology -- a system that made his work just as compelling at night as it is by day.
By Jeff Chapman

We’ve designed and built lots of fountains and waterfeatures through the years on all sorts of scales and levels, but this one – a definite jump outside the box – will be particularly memorable for all of us.

The client was The Woodlands, the big planned community near Houston. One of its highlights is a 1.7-mile-long waterway

He was called in to help with a spa, but Brian Van Bower ended up pitching in with three watershapes in all -- each of which offered unique hydraulic challenges and all of which contributed to creating an elegant, water-defined penthouse space overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
He was called in to help with a spa, but Brian Van Bower ended up pitching in with three watershapes in all -- each of which offered unique hydraulic challenges and all of which contributed to creating an elegant, water-defined penthouse space overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
By Brian Van Bower

It’s a great time to be a watershaper.

With so many talented designers out there, it’s a world in which it’s increasingly common to rush past conventional boundaries and deliver projects that delight the eye, warm the spirits and bring smiles to the faces of those lucky enough to enjoy them.  There are extraordinarily skillful builders and subcontractors out there as well – people whose ability and determination are

It's a bit misleading to say that Longwood Gardens' Main Fountain Garden is 'back,' observes Robert Nonemaker, declaring that the $90 million revitalization has produced something that recalls the original -- but exceeds it on so many levels that it's almost beyond comparison.
It's a bit misleading to say that Longwood Gardens' Main Fountain Garden is 'back,' observes Robert Nonemaker, declaring that the $90 million revitalization has produced something that recalls the original -- but exceeds it on so many levels that it's almost beyond comparison.
By Robert Nonemaker

To say that I’ve avidly followed the just-completed process of restoring and renovating the Main Fountain Garden at Longwood Gardens is putting it mildly:  This water display has been part of my life since I was ten years old, and I’m proud to say that it’s responsible both for my profound interest in water in motion and in some ways for my being a professional watershaper today.

So it makes sense that I was there at Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, Pa.) on May 27, 2017, when the fountain

Along with concerns about water consumption, questions on space allocation and energy use constitute the 'Big Three' among issues raised in sizing up fountain projects. Here, Robert Mikula wraps up this three-part series by offering answers that turn doubters into advocates.
Along with concerns about water consumption, questions on space allocation and energy use constitute the 'Big Three' among issues raised in sizing up fountain projects.  Here, Robert Mikula wraps up this three-part series by offering answers that turn doubters into advocates.
By Robert Mikula

In recent years, most watershapers have had to speak up in defense of their projects when prospective clients start asking questions about water use and how a pool or pond or fountain can possibly represent a sustainable use of a precious natural resource.

These questions even come from those who are fully committed to making water a part of a business or civic setting or a feature in a home environment:  They’re looking for ways of

The revitalization of Longwood Gardens' Main Fountain Garden is nearly complete -- an ideal time, notes Robert Nonemaker, to step up with a progress report as well as a preview of some of the awesome, breathtaking upgrades being applied to this 80-year-old treasure.
The revitalization of Longwood Gardens' Main Fountain Garden is nearly complete -- an ideal time, notes Robert Nonemaker, to step up with a progress report as well as a preview of some of the awesome, breathtaking upgrades being applied to this 80-year-old treasure.
By Robert Nonemaker

Three words come to mind when I consider what’s been happening with the Main Fountain Garden at Longwood Gardens for the last two-and-a-half years:  ambitious, audacious and amazing.

The people behind the project, from Longwood’s management team to all of the outside players who signed on to get the work done, were supremely ambitious in deciding to reconstruct a historic national treasure – first commissioned in 1931 – and bring it abruptly up to 21st-century standards for performance, automation and serviceability.  

They were audacious to the extent that they decided that all of this should happen in plain view, with no visual obstructions to hide what was going on from the public at large – no construction pen, no yellow tape, no barriers of any kind to keep the observers who crowd the fountain’s famed Conservatory Terrace from seeing exactly what was happening with their beloved water display.

But so amazing!  Although it had been in decline

4-5 farley video artBy Mike Farley

Water bowls emerged not long ago as a key element in the Watershaping Industry’s ongoing campaign to bring dimension, sound and vitality to residential backyards and commercial settings.  They go a long way toward masking traffic noise, which is cool, but even in a space that’s perfectly quiet, they offer up soothing sounds while bringing a sense of variety and visual stimulation to projects of just about any size or extent.

As with the many

Needing to testify to the sustainability of a fountain project is now common. The good news, writes Robert Mikula, is that it's becoming easier to defend the inclusion of any type of watershape if you make resource conservation a clear, distinct, reachable goal from the get-go.
Needing to testify to the sustainability of a fountain project is now common.  The good news, writes Robert Mikula, is that it's becoming easier to defend the inclusion of any type of watershape if you make resource conservation a clear, distinct, reachable goal from the get-go.
By Robert Mikula

As purveyors of fountains and other forms of decorative or recreational water, watershapers are faced these days by an immediate challenge:  What we do is generally classified as “unsustainable” by an environmentally conscious public because they erroneously assume poor performance when it comes to the way we approach water consumption, use of space and energy efficiency.

On the surface, these are serious knocks on

We're all naturally attracted to water, writes Robert Mikula, but with perceptions of its preciousness and scarcity on the rise, it has become increasingly difficult to ensure its inclusion in built environments. Here's the first of three articles about pathways through the obstacles.
We're all naturally attracted to water, writes Robert Mikula, but with perceptions of its preciousness and scarcity on the rise, it has become increasingly difficult to ensure its inclusion in built environments.  Here's the first of three articles about pathways through the obstacles.
By Robert Mikula

As watershapers, we’re comfortable using our chosen medium as a place-maker, an entertainer and a resource for recreation.  In doing so, we take advantage of the fact that water is a unique, extremely versatile substance that can be manipulated in innumerable ways.

We also accommodate the thought that, supreme among design media, water has a pronounced and often profound effect on people who

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