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The health and welfare of a typical pond or lake depends on a long list of factors – not the least of which, says engineer Erich Altvater, is proper aeration. If you get it right, he says, you can improve water quality; miss the mark, however, and many man-made ponds or lakes will fall into an unwelcome balance. Here, he explains what it takes to understand the water’s needs and guide clients to the proper aerating system.
The health and welfare of a typical pond or lake depends on a long list of factors – not the least of which, says engineer Erich Altvater, is proper aeration.  If you get it right, he says, you can improve water quality; miss the mark, however, and many man-made ponds or lakes will fall into an unwelcome balance.  Here, he explains what it takes to understand the water’s needs and guide clients to the proper aerating system.
By Erich Altwater

As the watershaping industry gets more involved with naturalistic bodies of water – particularly large ponds, lakes and streams intended to harbor life in the forms of aquatic plants and fish – it becomes increasingly worthwhile to understand the important role of proper aeration.

Aeration is a simple process involving the injection of dissolved oxygen (DO) into water.  Nature aerates by way of things such as waterfalls and rain – activities we must imitate by mechanical means in our man-made settings if fish are to be healthy and a host of water-quality problems are

Even under favorable circumstances, installing watershapes beyond the borders of your own country can offer formidable challenges. For his Canada-based fountain company, says Paul L’Heureux, success in establishing effective communications, eliminating wasteful snags and performing up to clients’ expectations means following a clearly defined process – one that keeps his team and its work on track from start to finish, around the globe.
Even under favorable circumstances, installing watershapes beyond the borders of your own country can offer formidable challenges.  For his Canada-based fountain company, says Paul L’Heureux, success in establishing effective communications, eliminating wasteful snags and performing up to clients’ expectations means following a clearly defined process – one that keeps his team and its work on track from start to finish, around the globe.
By Paul L'Heureux

It’s a fact:  Creating large watershapes for international clients is enough to send a project team’s stress levels off the charts.

You start with all the usual pressures of time, money and prestige that go along with performing on the global level.  Then there are cultural differences, not to mention local environmental concerns having to do with water usage.  And these factors can give you trouble even when you think you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Through the years, our company has learned many lessons about the importance of accommodating the cultural and economic overtones of what we do.  From our base in Toronto, Crystal Fountains pursues projects the world over and always strives to

Interactive waterfeatures are hot these days. Hotel chains, resorts, theme parks and even municipalities have jumped on what Jeff Horvath describes as an ‘interactive bandwagon’ to kick up interest among locals and tourists alike. It’s a simple formula: By attracting children and their families with a combination of design appeal, flexibility and fun, these innovative watershapes boost traffic – and revenues.
Interactive waterfeatures are hot these days.  Hotel chains, resorts, theme parks and even municipalities have jumped on what Jeff Horvath describes as an ‘interactive bandwagon’ to kick up interest among locals and tourists alike. It’s a simple formula: By attracting children and their families with a combination of design appeal, flexibility and fun, these innovative watershapes boost traffic – and revenues.
By Jeff Horvath

In conceptual terms, interactive fountains are really nothing new.  In fact, fountains have featured water effects and sequencing lights since the turn of the 20th Century.  

What’s emerged lately is a perception that these “dancing” waters are great sources of fun – a means for children to get soaked and for adults to stay dry and enjoy the show.  This resurgence of interest has led designers and manufacturers to apply the knowledge and mechanics of the past in creating effects that delight the eye, capture the imagination and bring fun to

There’s more to successful watershapes than good looks, observes Greg Stoks of Commercial Aquatics Engineering. This was particularly true of the trademark fountains of the Rainforest Cafés, a collection of elaborately themed family restaurants designed to mimic tropical environments: Troubles with the chain’s first few locations, he says, prompted owners to call for help in curing what were becoming costly water-related headaches.
There’s more to successful watershapes than good looks, observes Greg Stoks of Commercial Aquatics Engineering.  This was particularly true of the trademark fountains of the Rainforest Cafés, a collection of elaborately themed family restaurants designed to mimic tropical environments:  Troubles with the chain’s first few locations, he says, prompted owners to call for help in curing what were becoming costly water-related headaches.
By Greg Stoks

An important part of creating beautiful commercial watershapes is designing systems that actually work, effectively and enduringly, within the requirements and constraints of their given settings.  

This has become a real issue in the fountain business, where new demand is popping up at locations as diverse as resorts, malls, hotels, art pavilions, office buildings, convention centers, museums and even restaurants – and a few too many good-looking designs have been pulled out, significantly downsized or turned into planters because they just haven’t performed as needed or

Among the most intriguing watershapes that have ever been built are those designed to move water in sequence – spouts that dance to music, jets to tease playful children, streams that toll the hours. Making these effects work, says fountain designer and manufacturer Paul L’Heureux, takes skill in mechanical and hydraulic engineering as well as an advanced sensitivity to ‘liquid aesthetics.’ Here’s a look at what he means.
Among the most intriguing watershapes that have ever been built are those designed to move water in sequence – spouts that dance to music, jets to tease playful children, streams that toll the hours.  Making these effects work, says fountain designer and manufacturer Paul L’Heureux, takes skill in mechanical and hydraulic engineering as well as an advanced sensitivity to ‘liquid aesthetics.’  Here’s a look at what he means.
By Paul L’Heureux

In the ballet of sequenced water, you’ll find a repertoire of effects for watershapes of all kinds.  Like individual dance steps, these water effects can be beautiful on their own – or they can be used in combination with other effects to create elaborately choreographed shows that dazzle, delight and entertain.

From simple to complex and from small to utterly huge, sequenced-water effects are truly amazing, and the nice thing is that they can be incorporated into all kinds of watershapes.  We’ll take a look at some of the possibilities here as a means of defining why you and your clients should think about incorporating the devices needed to make them work in your projects.

There are practical issues, of course, so we’ll also cover the process of designing for sequencing and the considerations involved in the creative effort, as well as discussing the ins and outs of programming and commissioning for sequenced watershapes.  In an extensive sidebar, we’ll also take a look at available technologies and their strengths and weaknesses.

Before we get into

Fountains have long been purposeful testimonials to the beauty of moving water and the effect it has on associated sculpture and landscaping. Less deliberate and controllable but still beautiful, say landscape architects and environmental artists Suzanne Roe Dirsmith and Ron Dirsmith, is what occurs when a fountain and its patterns of mist and overspray freeze – effects that open a fresh, unique set of options to watershapers.
Fountains have long been purposeful testimonials to the beauty of moving water and the effect it has on associated sculpture and landscaping.  Less deliberate and controllable but still beautiful, say landscape architects and environmental artists Suzanne Roe Dirsmith and Ron Dirsmith, is what occurs when a fountain and its patterns of mist and overspray freeze – effects that open a fresh, unique set of options to watershapers.
By Suzanne Roe Dirsmith & Ron Dirsmith

An important part of creating a human environment in harmony with nature is planning for and designing with the cycle of the seasons in mind.

At our company, the Dirsmith Group, we operate with the belief that a blending of fine architecture and landscape design into our natural environment, in careful harmony with human beings, demonstrates both a reverence and a respect for nature.  The result of this blended environment is that people feel good:  They enjoy being in the space, and we believe it enriches the human spirit.

When it comes to working with the seasons specifically, that’s easier said than done in

It’s been the job of a lifetime for contractor and landscape architect Mark Holden: the creation of a multi-faceted paradise at an historic, hilltop estate in Montecito, Calif. The project features a variety of traditional watershapes designed with state-of-the-art technology – but all meant to appear as though they had been built with the original structures in the 1920s. Here, he begins a series of articles that will chronicle this amazing process.
It’s been the job of a lifetime for contractor and landscape architect Mark Holden:  the creation of a multi-faceted paradise at an historic, hilltop estate in Montecito, Calif.  The project features a variety of traditional watershapes designed with state-of-the-art technology – but all meant to appear as though they had been built with the original structures in the 1920s.  Here, he begins a series of articles that will chronicle this amazing process.
By Mark Holden

Montecito is home some of the grandest estates on the West Coast, but relatively few people know about it or where it is.  

A sleepy little town, it lies several miles east of Santa Barbara and some 80 miles or so northwest of Los Angeles.  From the beautiful hilltop estates that dot the landscape, you can see Santa Barbara’s wharf and downtown in the foreground, with sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean dominating the horizon.

The big ranches of Montecito are dotted with hundreds of watershapes inspired by the Spanish-Colonial and Moorish architecture that surround them.  Most were installed as part of the Spanish Revival movement that took hold among architects and landscape designers all over California through the first half of the 20th Century.

The revivalists’ octagonal and quatrefoil fountains and courtyards provide a visual link to the state’s Spanish heritage.  Fueled by the explosion of Hollywood’s movie industry during this time, the combination of money, lots of open land and a popular architectural style resulted in creation of some of the most beautiful estates anywhere in the world – none more so than a property named Cima del Mundo, Spanish for

The lighting of water in motion is equal parts engineering and art. To be successful at it, observes Paul L’Heureux of Crystal Fountains, you need to combine an understanding of the available technology with an eye for what’s involved in accenting movement with light. Here, in the second part of his discussion of fountain lighting, he gets specific about techniques that bring moving water to life when the sun goes down.
The lighting of water in motion is equal parts engineering and art.  To be successful at it, observes Paul L’Heureux of Crystal Fountains, you need to combine an understanding of the available technology with an eye for what’s involved in accenting movement with light.  Here, in the second part of his discussion of fountain lighting, he gets specific about techniques that bring moving water to life when the sun goes down.
By Paul L’Heureux

Just as a painting comes alive with a tiny lamp perched over its frame or a simple landscape becomes a nighttime spectacle with strategically placed spot and flood lights, illuminated water creates an intense experience for the eyes. Lighting adds depth and dimension while revealing subtle details and producing emotional responses among those who view and enjoy these scenes.

The simple truth is, if we didn’t light water in fountains and other watershapes, much of its visual beauty would be lost.  As we discussed in “Guiding the Lights” (WaterShapes, March 2001, page 48), understanding and applying the various approaches and techniques of lighting water enables professional watershapers to operate on whole new levels.

In the following pages, we’ll continue that discussion with a look at what it takes to maximize the aesthetic effects of water in motion and discuss some practical issues having to do with lighting installation and safety.

SOLUTIONS IN MOTION

Last time, we identified the various categories of water effects, design considerations for each and the most effective of the available lighting solutions.  This time we’ll

Boston’s First Church of Christ, Scientist, has become nationally known both for its original design and also for the spontaneous child’s play that has developed through the years in the facility’s deck-level fountain. Here, landscape architects John Copley and Lynn Wolff discuss their firm’s role in modifying the original design to match its actual usage, all while preserving the character of a site that has become one of the city’s modern landmarks.
Boston’s First Church of Christ, Scientist, has become nationally known both for its original design and also for the spontaneous child’s play that has developed through the years in the facility’s deck-level fountain.  Here, landscape architects John Copley and Lynn Wolff discuss their firm’s role in modifying the original design to match its actual usage, all while preserving the character of a site that has become one of the city’s modern landmarks.
By John Copley & Lynn Wolff

Sometimes, it’s the unexpected that gives a place its true spirit.

That’s been very much the case for The First Church of Christ, Scientist, a 1975 addition to Boston’s historic Back Bay district.  The site features a campus plan devised by legendary architects I.M. Pei and Peter Walker, with grounds organized around a central reflecting pool flanked by a circular, ceremonial display fountain.  The famed fountain is enclosed by an equally famous bosque of linden trees pleached into lollipop forms.  

For Bostonians and visitors alike, this classic design has become part of the urban fabric – and the church’s plaza a popular gathering place.

Not long after the original work was completed, children from surrounding neighborhoods (the South End, Fenway and the Back Bay) discovered the wonderful play opportunities associated with the 180-nozzle deck-level fountain, especially during the hot summer months. Since 1975, literally thousands of kids with their families in tow have made this space their summer hangout, and now second-generation children are being brought to the fountain by parents who grew up playing in its irresistible jets of water.

From the start, however, there was a problem with

The York Street Millennium Fountain in Canada’s capital city is a modest marvel, a compact monument that says something about the city’s history and urbanity in ways that something grander perhaps never could have done. But the scale of the fountain is the only thing ‘small’ about the project, recalls landscape architect John Altorio, who found the work of balancing national- and local-government interests to be a challenge indeed.
The York Street Millennium Fountain in Canada’s capital city is a modest marvel, a compact monument that says something about the city’s history and urbanity in ways that something grander perhaps never could have done.  But the scale of the fountain is the only thing ‘small’ about the project, recalls landscape architect John Altorio, who found the work of balancing national- and local-government interests to be a challenge indeed.
By John J. Altorio

A watershape doesn’t need to be immense to be either beautiful or monumental.  Nor does it need to be outsized to serve its community as a gathering place or point of pride.

Those are a couple of the lessons we learned in shaping the York Street Millennium Fountain in the heart of one of the highest profile tourist areas of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  Using an inventive approach that balanced the needs of the neighborhood, a range of national and local government officials and the general citizenry’s desire to celebrate the new millennium, the project also embraced the city’s own rich history.

The new fountain sits at a significant crossroads of pedestrian traffic between the Byward Market and the government district in downtown Ottawa.  Indeed, the traffic island surrounding the fountain stands just blocks from Parliament Hill, the seat of Canada’s national government, and was intended from the start to serve as a focal point and gathering place.

Although small and comparatively simple, the project was complicated by the need to satisfy both local and national officials, which meant we had to incorporate

From large, deck-level dancing fountains to small, toy-like interactive water effects, the art of enticing the public to participate in aquatic spaces has developed by leaps and bounds in recent years. Here, Pam Pasotti of the fountain consulting firm of CMS Collaborative traces the evolution of these participatory installations with an eye toward distilling the lessons fountain designers have learned along the way.
From large, deck-level dancing fountains to small, toy-like interactive water effects, the art of enticing the public to participate in aquatic spaces has developed by leaps and bounds in recent years.  Here, Pam Pasotti of the fountain consulting firm of CMS Collaborative traces the evolution of these participatory installations with an eye toward distilling the lessons fountain designers have learned along the way.
By Pamela Jay Pasotti

People don’t usually have trouble with boundaries and will honor requests to “Keep Out,” for example, or leave certain doors to “Employees Only.”   

But there are also cases where we generally take issue with limitations on behavior whether stated or implied, and I can think of no better instance in which this takes place than with water in public spaces.

Despite designers’ best efforts over the years to make it clear where bathers are welcome and where they are not, the public has steadily defied boundaries by trespassing into waters that were never directly designed for human interaction.  In fact, you might say that formal, decorative fountains are a forbidden fruit from which many of us have taken the occasional bite.

During the past two decades, watershape designers have looked very specifically at the irresistible urge we have to touch water in an effort to shape all-new boundaries between public nuisance and design nuance.  Along the way, we’ve learned which elements offer a deliberate, positive signal – a real “permission to play” – and are now wielding this power of interactivity to create and define a broad range of

It isn’t unusual for big fountain projects to present unique challenges to their designers, outfitters and installers – and the one seen here is no exception. But this uniquely sculpted project, with its rocks and boulders and state-of-the-art watershaping technology, was more satisfying than most for Jon Mitovich and the staff at Roman Fountains, who immersed themselves in the process of turning a landscape architect’s drawings into a functioning marvel.
It isn’t unusual for big fountain projects to present unique challenges to their designers, outfitters and installers – and the one seen here is no exception.  But this uniquely sculpted project, with its rocks and boulders and state-of-the-art watershaping technology, was more satisfying than most for Jon Mitovich and the staff at Roman Fountains, who immersed themselves in the process of turning a landscape architect’s drawings into a functioning marvel.
By Jon Mitovich

Perhaps the hardest thing for a watershaper to accomplish is to take a set of someone else’s drawings, plans, sections and elevations, roll them all around together and come up with an accurate, three-dimensional, living interpretation of an architect’s vision.

The project shown here is a prime example of what’s involved in this process.  Designed by senior landscape architect Patrick Smith of the Austin, Texas, firm of Richardson Verdoorn, the plans called for three separate streams ranging in length from 50 to 80 feet (with each dropping 36 inches over various weirs) – all converging on a rocky

Numerous approaches to the illumination of decorative watershapes have been around for decades, but there’s keener interest in specific techniques for the lighting of moving water as the ‘fountain phenomenon’ reaches past the commercial realm and makes its way into the residential market. In both settings, observes Crystal Fountains’ Paul L’Heureux, it’s always about maximizing the visual beauty of water. (Photo by John Max Llorca)
Numerous approaches to the illumination of decorative watershapes have been around for decades, but there’s keener interest in specific techniques for the lighting of moving water as the ‘fountain phenomenon’ reaches past the commercial realm and makes its way into the residential market.  In both settings, observes Crystal Fountains’ Paul L’Heureux, it’s always about maximizing the visual beauty of water.  (Photo by John Max Llorca)
By Paul L’Heureux

It’s a simple notion:  When designing illumination for fountains and for watershapes in general, we as designers have the opportunity to choreograph the interaction of light, sound and motion to create visually compelling experiences.  

Just as painters mix colors to create desired shades, moods and movement within their compositions, watershapers can use the sounds created by moving water, the water’s visual effects, various materials of construction, the ambient (natural) light, any surrounding architecture and the tools of modern illumination technology to take these masterpieces to

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