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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

1-25 farley video artBy Mike Farley

In concept, water walls are pretty straightforward:  You pump a bit of water to the top of a structure and set up a weir or spillways or a system of emitters to release water so that it moves down the face of the wall the way you want it to flow.

In actuality, however, water walls are much more complicated than that.  In fact, there are lots of things that

An extensive facelift for Chicago's famed Navy Pier involved creating a brand-new park at its entrance, complete with a large interactive fountain. Working in so public a space amps up the pressure, notes Asmaa Elkorazati -- and puts a premium on having the right project team.
An extensive facelift for Chicago's famed Navy Pier involved creating a brand-new park at its entrance, complete with a large interactive fountain.  Working in so public a space amps up the pressure, notes Asmaa Elkorazati -- and puts a premium on having the right project team.
By Asmaa Elkorazati

Projects in significant public spaces are rewarding on many levels, but they also carry their fair share of challenges, mostly in the forms of scheduling, coordination and communication.

For us at Crystal Fountains (Concord, Ontario, Canada), these hurdles are beyond familiar:  For decades, we’ve been a go-to working partner for fountain and interactive waterfeature projects around the world, from the Crown Fountain

Working far from his U.S. home base is nothing new for Josh Martin. But in the case of the Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, the scale of the project -- combined with the large number of watershapes and their abundance of precision details -- kept things interesting, one feature after another.
Working far from his U.S. home base is nothing new for Josh Martin.  But in the case of the Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, the scale of the project -- combined with the large number of watershapes and their abundance of precision details -- kept things interesting, one feature after another.
By Josh Martin

When it comes to ostentatious and even audacious aquatic displays, there’s no doubt that the Middle East now boasts some of the world’s most incredible watershapes.  Even a quick survey reveals a tremendous range of architectural and hydrological marvels in which technology is paired with grandeur to stunning effect.

Several instances of this exuberance appear on

7-13 farley video artBy Mike Farley

This is one of those cases where, from a design perspective, I said just about everything I wanted to say about rain-curtain effects in the video linked below.

They look great, they sound even better and my clients love them.  So what else is there to consider?  Well,

The fountain basin was designed for children at play, but a deteriorating finish was making it much less fun than it should have been. Enter Ron Melbourne, a specialist in reviving watershapes in their time of need: He saved the day with felt, adhesive, PVC and well-applied heat.
The fountain basin was designed for children at play, but a deteriorating finish was making it much less fun than it should have been.  Enter Ron Melbourne, a specialist in reviving watershapes in their time of need:  He saved the day with felt, adhesive, PVC and well-applied heat.
By Ron Melbourne

Yards Park is a wonderful open space in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood of Washington, D.C.  One of its main attractions is in the middle block of the park, where you’ll find a grand watershape with a footprint that covers an area spanning 20 by 135 feet.  

At one end, there’s a fountain/waterfeature that immediately catches the eye.  But the big draw

In the year to come, the renowned Main Fountain at Longwood Gardens will be undergoing a mass-scale renovation. Robert Nonemaker is tracking the process for us, beginning here with an insider's report on the grand display's gradual decline -- and imminent rebirth.
In the year to come, the renowned Main Fountain at Longwood Gardens will be undergoing a mass-scale renovation.  Robert Nonemaker is tracking the process for us, beginning here with an insider's report on the grand display's gradual decline -- and imminent rebirth.
By Robert Nonemaker

When the management at Longwood Gardens announced in late 2014 that the Main Fountain Garden would be taken offline and become the subject of a $90 million restoration project, anyone who has ever visited the gardens had to be happy.

I’ve been a regular visitor and huge fan of the Longwood for most of my life, and it’s been sad through the years to watch various systems break down and the overall performance of what was left gradually

Working on big restoration projects is always a challenge, but when the subject fountain is 300 years old and the setting is the famous Gardens of Versailles? Well, says David L'Heureux, it takes care, professionalism -- and a determination to perform at the very highest level.
Working on big restoration projects is always a challenge, but when the subject fountain is 300 years old and the setting is the famous Gardens of Versailles?  Well, says David L'Heureux, it takes care, professionalism -- and a determination to perform at the very highest level.
By David L’Heureux

Starting in 1661, Louis XIV of France began a building project at his country estate in Versailles that would keep him busy throughout what remained of his reign.  He held on all the way through until 1715, so he had a good, long time to browbeat large numbers of architects, designers and engineers into making the chateau a statement of power, wealth and majesty befitting a man who called himself Le Roi Soleil

Working among the 300-year-old fountains in France's Gardens of Versailles was a bit intimidating, recalls David L'Heureux. But as he writes here, the delicate process of adding modern LED systems to enhance their nighttime appearance was also inspiring beyond measure.
Working among the 300-year-old fountains in France's Gardens of Versailles was a bit intimidating, recalls David L'Heureux.  But as he writes here, the delicate process of adding modern LED systems to enhance their nighttime appearance was also inspiring beyond measure.
David L’Heureux

For much of human history, those with power and wealth have been willing to put both on display in the places they choose to reside.  There are palaces and great houses all over the planet, each one testifying to the grandeur of its owner and the talents of the architects and designers brought in to turn grand visions into actual structures and garden spaces.

Often, those commissioning these conspicuous projects were members of

When Jim Wilder approaches a fountain project, his knowledge of basic hydraulics tells him to rely on balance and lay out his systems accordingly. But he also knows how difficult it can be to resist a bit of performance-ensuring overkill -- even when he knows better.
When Jim Wilder approaches a fountain project, his knowledge of basic hydraulics tells him to rely on balance and lay out his systems accordingly.  But he also knows how difficult it can be to resist a bit of performance-ensuring overkill -- even when he knows better.
By Jim Wilder

No matter where you turn these days, you’ll find watershaping experts preaching the gospel of balanced hydraulics.  In class after class, text after text, they all say that if you do exactly the same thing on one side of a tee as you do on the other, you will get the same flow on both side of that tee.

If, for example, two main drains are connected to a single tee with pipes of the same length and diameter and the same fittings, those drains will both draw equal amounts of

More than 25 years ago, even before he was a watershaper, Jim Wilder came across a fountain puzzle he couldn't solve. Since then, he's figured it out -- and shares his observations of a neat effect here.
More than 25 years ago, even before he was a watershaper, Jim Wilder came across a fountain puzzle he couldn't solve.  Since then, he's figured it out -- and shares his observations of a neat effect here.
By Jim Wilder

Water in the open basins that commonly surround fountain jets or nozzles is never tranquil while these systems are in operation.  It will slosh around in response to the upward thrust of those jets or nozzles as well as the splashing the rising water makes as it drops back into the basin.  If the circumstances are right, this disruptive splashing will produce waves in a distinct, consistent pattern.  By exploiting these waves, it’s possible to produce an effect I find

When the city of Denver decided to revitalize an old downtown neighborhood by bringing its historic train station back to life, reports Karen Van Heukelem, she and her colleagues at Colorado Hardscapes were ready to pitch in on several levels. They did lots of work that’s buried underground, she notes, but the evidence their sub-grade craftsmanship shines forth on deck in the form of a wonderful leaping-jet waterfeature.
When the city of Denver decided to revitalize an old downtown neighborhood by bringing its historic train station back to life, reports Karen Van Heukelem, she and her colleagues at Colorado Hardscapes were ready to pitch in on several levels.  They did lots of work that’s buried underground, she notes, but the evidence their sub-grade craftsmanship shines forth on deck in the form of a wonderful leaping-jet waterfeature.
By Karen Van Heukelem

In recent years, cities across the United States have found that restoring their old train stations is a great way to attract people and commerce to downtown districts that have seen better days.  These revitalization projects have picked up the pace in cities from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, and they seem to work best when old, original functions are preserved and mixed in with the new.

That’s precisely the direction that redevelopment of Denver’s historic Union Station has taken:  The classic, Beaux Arts-style building, which opened in 1914, lost almost all of the

11-5 farley video artBy Mike Farley

In my experience, watershapers have a tendency to focus a bit too narrowly on one or another aspect of the craft – some on pools and spas, others on ponds or fountains.  You get the idea:  In speaking with clients, there’s an inclination to play to one’s strongest cards – and I think that can be

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