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Encompassing a wide spectrum of artistic styles and making statements that range from the modest to the magnificent, the fountains of Kansas City are so tightly woven into the urban fabric that the town is justly known as ‘The City of Fountains.’ Here, watershaper and Kansas City resident Curt Straub pays tribute to a tradition of fountain-craft that has shaped so many public spaces of his city – and defined a community’s pride. (Photo courtesy City of Fountains Foundation, Kansas City, Mo.)
Encompassing a wide spectrum of artistic styles and making statements that range from the modest to the magnificent, the fountains of Kansas City are so tightly woven into the urban fabric that the town is justly known as ‘The City of Fountains.’  Here, watershaper and Kansas City resident Curt Straub pays tribute to a tradition of fountain-craft that has shaped so many public spaces of his city – and defined a community’s pride.  (Photo courtesy City of Fountains Foundation, Kansas City, Mo.)
By Curt Straub

Kansas City, Missouri, proudly calls itself “The City of Fountains,” and it comes by the title legitimately.  In fact, more than 150 public fountains grace its plazas, boulevards, parks and public buildings, and the community has long held to a tradition of creative use of moving water and sculpture in developing its public spaces.

As a resident of the city, I get a sense of civic history and our collective self-image as I look at these fountains.  As a watershaper, I take additional pride in the variety of forms and styles I see and in the course of technological development that has lifted fountains to new heights of

As the popularity of interactive watershapes continues to grow, more and more architects, aquatic designers, home and resort developers, city officials and others are recognizing their value to communities. Indeed, says Stephen Hamelin, founder of Vortex Aquatic Structures, working with these exciting manifestations of aquatic fun is a positive experience at every level, especially given the opportunities they offer to help children learn through play.
As the popularity of interactive watershapes continues to grow, more and more architects, aquatic designers, home and resort developers, city officials and others are recognizing their value to communities.  Indeed, says Stephen Hamelin, founder of Vortex Aquatic Structures, working with these exciting manifestations of aquatic fun is a positive experience at every level, especially given the opportunities they offer to help children learn through play.
By Stephen Hamelin

Fifteen years ago, aquatic play attractions were found mainly in commercial waterparks in the form of large, multi-level, themed structures.  Some smaller elements were found in the shallow ends of swimming pools, but they were generally limited to a few play apparatuses such as water umbrellas.

Much has changed in recent years, and aquatic play systems are now featured in a greater variety of settings including city parks, recreation centers, resorts and a range of other recreational spaces.  This trend did not burst forth overnight:  For more than ten years, our firm and others have been helping things along by focusing attention on the value of concepts related to zero-depth aquatic play.  

We at Vortex Aquatic Structures in Montreal, for example, have designed our “Splashpads” to bring the joy and recreational value of aquatic play to almost any space.   Among our objectives is bringing a measure of the commercial waterpark experience to places such as neighborhood parks, housing developments, campgrounds and other facilities, thereby allowing everyone within a community to experience

Residential garden and watershape design should be an intensely personal process, says landscape architect and watershaper Rhadiante Van De Voorde – one keyed to the needs and desires of the client but balanced by the designer’s singular passion for composing exterior spaces. To demonstrate how this balance takes shape in her own work, she leads us through the thought processes that distinguish her clients’ evocative backyards. (Photo by Gregory Case, San Jose, Calif.)
Residential garden and watershape design should be an intensely personal process, says landscape architect and watershaper Rhadiante Van De Voorde – one keyed to the needs and desires of the client but balanced by the designer’s singular passion for composing exterior spaces.  To demonstrate how this balance takes shape in her own work, she leads us through the thought processes that distinguish her clients’ evocative backyards.  (Photo by Gregory Case, San Jose, Calif.)
By Rhadiante Van De Voorde

Successful residential exterior design is akin to a precisely choreographed dance.  One sequence of steps defines the relationships among hardscape, water and plants.  Other sequences distinguish light and shadow, color and texture, open views and intimate spaces.  If the choreographer has done a good job, we don’t see the individual steps so much as we enjoy the overall experience of motion.  

The key to making these multifarious steps work together?  It’s all about balance.

Transferring these principles to backyard design, there’s a similar need for

The Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park is an ingenious fusion of artistic vision and high-tech water effects in which sculptor Juame Plensa’ s creative concepts were brought to life by an interdisciplinary team that included the waterfeature designers at Crystal Fountains. Here, Larry O’Hearn describes how the firm met the challenge and helped give Chicago’s residents a defining landmark in glass, light, water and bright faces.
The Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park is an ingenious fusion of artistic vision and high-tech water effects in which sculptor Juame Plensa’ s creative concepts were brought to life by an interdisciplinary team that included  the waterfeature designers at Crystal Fountains.  Here, Larry O’Hearn describes how the firm met the challenge and helped give Chicago’s residents a defining landmark in glass, light, water and bright faces.
By Larry O’Hearn

The Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park is an ingenious fusion of artistic vision and high-tech water effects in which sculptor Juame Plensa’ s creative concepts were brought to life by an interdisciplinary team that included  the waterfeature designers at Crystal Fountains.  Here, Larry O’Hearn describes how the firm met the challenge and helped give Chicago’s residents a defining landmark in glass, light, water and bright faces.   

In July last year, the city of Chicago unveiled its newest civic landmark:  Millennium Park, a world-class artistic and architectural extravaganza in the heart of downtown. At a cost of more than $475 million and in a process that took more than six years to complete, the park transformed a lakefront space once marked by unsightly railroad tracks and ugly parking

Ideal for tall spaces with precious little floor space, rain curtains offer watershapers a striking design option perfectly suited to a variety of retail, office and assorted other commercial spaces. As with any specialized effect, says fountain designer and supplier Jon Mitovich, working with rain curtains calls for a good understanding of just what makes the systems tick – and what it takes to set them up to achieve the best possible results.
Ideal for tall spaces with precious little floor space, rain curtains offer watershapers a striking design option perfectly suited to a variety of retail, office and assorted other commercial spaces.  As with any specialized effect, says fountain designer and supplier Jon Mitovich, working with rain curtains calls for a good understanding of just what makes the systems tick – and what it takes to set them up to achieve the best possible results.
By Jon Mitovich

For many of us in the watershaping business, the design and creation of fountains and water displays follows a predictable set of functional patterns.  Given the traditional tools of the trade and our repertoire of nozzles and spray apparatus, for example, we tend to fashion effects and shapes from the ground up, literally throwing water in the air in a more or less uncontrolled manner.

From a design standpoint, the problem with this tradition is that it eats up space like nobody’s business:  The pools needed to catch free-falling flows of any noteworthy height need to be large enough to capture water subject to the effects of splash, wind drift and overspray.  The higher the spray, the larger must be the footprint of the pool to contain it adequately.   

As a rule, these pools need to have diameters of twice the height of the spray – by any measure a significant contribution of expensive commercial real estate to the creative effort at a time when property owners are motivated to make every available square foot an income producer.

As an alternative in this space race, watershapers have found dry-deck or curbless fountains to be a great way to

Daryl Toby has built his career on two passions – one for world travel, the other for landscape design. Indeed, he spends months at a time overseas, seeking out fresh sources for antique construction materials and art objects for use in his firm’s own designs while importing them for others. Here, he shares in words and images the appeal of turning to the past to stoke the creative fires of contemporary watershape and landscape projects.
Daryl Toby has built his career on two passions – one for world travel, the other for landscape design.  Indeed, he spends months at a time overseas, seeking out fresh sources for antique construction materials and art objects for use in his firm’s own designs while importing them for others.  Here, he shares in words and images the appeal of turning to the past to stoke the creative fires of contemporary watershape and landscape projects.

 

By Daryl Toby

When you execute complex projects for sophisticated clients, your ability to satisfy them and their tastes by bringing something different or interesting or unique to the table can make all the difference.  As our firm has evolved, we’ve increasingly come to focus on identifying these compelling touches, which for us most often center on old-world influences that resonate, sometimes deeply, with our clients.

I’ve always loved to travel and have spent extended periods in Asia, Latin America and Europe.  At some point, it occurred to me that by working not only with the principles of classical  European and Asian garden design, but also with authentic,  imported materials and art objects, the work would take on greater meaning and interest for me – and for my clients as well.

To that point, our firm had followed a path of influence that still reflects itself in our replication of ancient stone-setting techniques.  While traveling in China and Japan, I began spotting stone pieces and other objects we could use directly in our watershapes and gardens and started acquiring pieces for that purpose.

This step beyond evoking not only the style but actually using elements of authentic design quickly turned into a powerful element in our work.  As we moved further in this direction, the channels opened wider, the creative possibilities blossomed and we soon began incorporating more and more of the materials and ideas that I’d encountered

For centuries, gardens the world over have been decorated by statuary, fountains and benches, with every such item dedicated to the proposition of enhancing the enjoyment of these outdoor spaces. Here, Maria Lynch Dumoulin discusses the history of these pieces within the design tradition – and speaks of her company’s role in preserving and replicating objects that speak to us across continents, eras and styles with ease.
For centuries, gardens the world over have been decorated by statuary, fountains and benches, with every such item dedicated to the proposition of enhancing the enjoyment of these outdoor spaces.  Here, Maria Lynch Dumoulin discusses the history of these pieces within the design tradition – and speaks of her company’s role in preserving and replicating objects that speak to us across continents, eras and styles with ease.
By Maria Lynch Dumoulin

It’s amazing how the traditions of art and craft tracing back through centuries still inform today’s designs.

That’s particularly true in the field of garden ornamentation, where modern statuary, fountains, vases and seating elements take their cues from original works found in ancient Greece and China, in Renaissance Italy and France – and from just about every other era and location around and between.

This depth of available imagery is both a boon and a challenge to those in the business of supplying garden ornaments to today’s architects, landscape architects, watershapers and their clients.  There’s just

Through the past four decades, indoor and outdoor shopping malls have become dominant fixtures of the retail landscape. As the ‘mall phenomenon’ has matured and the number of facilities has risen, notes fountain expert Paul L’Heureux, so has the need to differentiate these properties to attract shoppers. In lots of cases, he says, the marks of distinction are watershapes of one sort or another – yet another creative outlet for imaginative designers.
Through the past four decades, indoor and outdoor shopping malls have become dominant fixtures of the retail landscape.  As the ‘mall phenomenon’ has matured and the number of facilities has risen, notes fountain expert Paul L’Heureux, so has the need to differentiate these properties to attract shoppers.  In lots of cases, he says, the marks of distinction are watershapes of one sort or another – yet another creative outlet for imaginative designers.
By Paul L’Heureux & Douglas Duff

The shopping mall as we know it first emerged in the United States in the 1960s and since then has become a dominating retail presence on both the urban and suburban scenes.

They started out in larger cities but soon were found just about everywhere – indoors or outdoors, small and large, visually appealing and, well, less visually appealing.  Some are organized around upscale shopping and recreational activities, others around discount centers and manufacturers’ outlets.  There are many that are filled with mom-and-pop boutiques, while a few are integrated with amusement parks.  Whatever seems likely to succeed, mall developers have certainly been willing to give it a whirl.

At their core, however, every mall of any type has the primary mission of pulling people together so they can spend money on all kinds of merchandise; all the entertainment, dining and socializing are, in other words, secondary activities.  In this sense, today’s retail forums are a modern version of marketplace traditions that reach back to ancient times and almost every human society – with lots of modern conveniences added for good measure.

Today’s malls, in fact, are

Sculptor and landscape artist Roger Hopkins has spent a career with stone. From investigations of the stone-working techniques of ancient Egyptians and Druids to pursuit of his own brand of primal stone sculpture, he approaches life with an exuberance, determination and wit that are evident in everything he does. Here, in words and pictures, Hopkins takes us behind the scenes for a look at his work in a genre he calls “primitive modern.”
Sculptor and landscape artist Roger Hopkins has spent a career with stone.  From investigations of the stone-working techniques of ancient Egyptians and Druids to pursuit of his own brand of primal stone sculpture, he approaches life with an exuberance, determination and wit that are evident in everything he does.  Here, in words and pictures, Hopkins takes us behind the scenes for a look at his work in a genre he calls “primitive modern.”
By Roger Hopkins

I’ve always been conservative when it comes to guaranteeing my work, which is why I only offer a 300-year warranty on my sculptures.  I’m fairly certain that the vast majority of my pieces will last well beyond that span, but there’s always the possibility one might be consumed by a volcanic eruption, blown up in disaster of some sort or drowned when the ice caps melt and cover the land with water.

Those sorts of cataclysms aside, it’s hard to imagine that the massive pieces of stone I use to create what I call “primitive modern” art will be compromised by much of anything the environment or human beings can throw at them.  

Ultimately, that’s one of the beauties of working in stone:  It possesses a profound form of permanence – and there’s a certain comfort that comes with knowing my work won’t be blown away by wind, eroded by rain or damaged by extremes of heat or cold.  And given the fact that these pieces are so darn heavy, it’s safe to say that most people are going to think at least twice before trying to move or abscond with them.

Beyond the personal guarantees and despite the fact I don’t dwell on too much, working with stone also has a unique ability to connect me and my clients with both the very distant past and the far distant future.  Human beings have been carving stone for thousands of years, and many of those works are still with us in extraordinarily representative shape.  There’s little doubt that those pieces

During the past decade or so, fountains that feature rotating granite balls have become familiar in myriad settings, from theme parks to upscale backyards. The trick of floating weighty rock spheres on thin sheets of water in rounded sockets is actually a simple one, says fountain expert Anne Gunn, but it’s nonetheless an effect that is utterly fascinating to children and adults who enjoy moving hugely heavy objects with the slightest of touches.
During the past decade or so, fountains that feature rotating granite balls have become familiar in myriad settings, from theme parks to upscale backyards.  The trick of floating weighty rock spheres on thin sheets of water in rounded sockets is actually a simple one, says fountain expert Anne Gunn, but it’s nonetheless an effect that is utterly fascinating to children and adults who enjoy moving hugely heavy objects with the slightest of touches.
By Anne Gunn

If ever there was an example of the power of simplicity, it’s been the rise of what we call floating-granite-ball fountains.  They’ve been around since the early 1990s and are now found in a range of commercial and even residential settings.

I hadn’t ever seen one when I joined HydroDramatics back in 1996, but I do know that soon after I started we began receiving a steady flow on inquiries about them – and it wasn’t long before we received our first commission for a floating sphere for a major automobile manufacturer in Detroit.

As has been the case every time a prospect has asked about one of these fountains since then, school administrators wanted

Completing the fountain for Disney’s California Adventure theme park presented watershaper Dave Wooten and his company with immense technical and operational challenges: In crafting a huge artificial ocean wave that serves as the park’s symbolic core, he and his staff not only pushed the limits of hydraulic and mechanical design, but also met incredible standards for planning, performance and system serviceability set by an awesome client.
Completing the fountain for Disney’s California Adventure theme park presented watershaper Dave Wooten and his company with immense technical and operational challenges:  In crafting a huge artificial ocean wave that serves as the park’s symbolic core, he and his staff not only pushed the limits of hydraulic and mechanical design, but also met incredible standards for planning, performance and system serviceability set by an awesome client.
By Dave Wooten

Sometimes you just know that a client is going to want something special – something nobody else has.  I can think of no other entity that better fills that bill than the Walt Disney Co.  

Justly famed for its remarkable creativity, spirit of innovation and ultra-high standards for design and execution, I knew going in that working with this amazing organization would mean coming to the table with strong ideas, supreme self-confidence and a demonstrated willingness to test boundaries and perform beyond expectations.

Our firm, Captured Sea of Sunset Beach, Calif., was founded with those exact qualities in mind and a mission to create fountain systems throughout southern California that are distinctive, unique in concept, superbly engineered and built to last.  Through the past eight years, we’ve been fortunate to tackle several projects for Disney in southern California.  In each case, they were looking for watershapes that would delight visitors while enduring the rigors of heavy-duty use and near-constant operation.

The call about the fountain featured in this article came in late summer 1999 from Glendale, Calif.-based Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), the remarkable division of the company responsible for designing its theme parks and attractions.  They told us that they were

Extraordinary scope and a high level of patient logistical coordination: That’s what ‘The Fountain of Life’ project was all about in its design, engineering and construction phases – but that’s only part of the story. The other, says stone mason and watershaper Eric Dobbs, has to do with playfulness and whimsy and providing passing children with the opportunity to find relief from the blistering desert sun.
Extraordinary scope and a high level of patient logistical coordination:  That’s what ‘The Fountain of Life’ project was all about in its design, engineering and construction phases – but that’s only part of the story.  The other, says stone mason and watershaper Eric Dobbs, has to do with playfulness and whimsy and providing passing children with the opportunity to find relief from the blistering desert sun.
By Eric Dobbs

From the start, this project was meant to be something truly special – a monument symbolizing the ambition of an entire community as well as a fun gathering place for citizens of Cathedral City, Calif., a growing community located in the desert near Palm Springs.

“The Fountain of Life,” as the project is titled, features a central structure of three highly decorated stone bowls set atop columns rising into the desert sky.  Water tumbles, sprays and cascades from these bowls and other jets on the center structure, spilling onto a soft surface surrounding the fountain.  All around this vertical structure are sculpted animal figures – a whimsical counterbalance that lends a light touch to the composition and opens the whole setting to children at play.  

I’ve been building stone fountains for 18 years, and I’ve never come across anything even close to this project with respect to either size or sheer creativity.  Making it all happen took an unusually high degree of collaboration on the part of the city, the artist, the architects and a variety of

Creating watershapes for one of the hottest, driest places on earth might seem a bit crazy, concedes Crystal Fountains’ Michael Denman. But the fact is, people living in those places have long been aware of the ability of water to increase the comfort and appeal of public and private places – and are currently updating ancient traditions with thoroughly modern watershaping technology in showplace cities throughout the Middle East.
Creating watershapes for one of the hottest, driest places on earth might seem a bit crazy, concedes Crystal Fountains’ Michael Denman.  But the fact is, people living in those places have long been aware of the ability of water to increase the comfort and appeal of public and private places – and are currently updating ancient traditions with thoroughly modern watershaping technology in showplace cities throughout the Middle East.
By Michael Denman

Throughout ancient times, water was central to the thinking of Arab, Persian, Moorish, Moghul and Turkish architects and designers, with largely anonymous representatives of each civilization preparing elaborate spaces with fountains, reflecting pools and other watershapes at their hearts.  

In the past, these societies’ greatest architectural works almost invariably featured elaborate watershapes that bespoke their technical skills as well as a general love affair with the beauty, luxury and necessity of water.  With new developments burgeoning across much of the Middle East these days, fountains and watershapes of all varieties are once again playing important roles in design as

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