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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

For years, says watershaper and educator Mark Holden, landscape architects and watershape contractors have had profound difficulty in communicating about the way water should appear in given systems – whether it should flow over a weir, for example, or how much should spray from a nozzle and how far. The root of the problem, he observes, is what he describes as an addressable lack of water-defining detail in landscape architects’ drawings.
For years, says watershaper and educator Mark Holden, landscape architects and watershape contractors have had profound difficulty in communicating about the way water should appear in given systems – whether it should flow over a weir, for example, or how much should spray from a nozzle and how far.  The root of the problem, he observes, is what he describes as an addressable lack of water-defining detail in landscape architects’ drawings.
By Mark Holden

Who took the water out of watershapes?  

That may seem a ridiculous question, but it’s also an obvious one when you see as many plans as I do – and by that I mean plans intended to indicate and initiate the watershaping parts of a wide variety of projects.  Indeed, in my long experience in running an engineering-oriented firm, I’ve repeatedly been asked by designers to flesh out their watershape “ideas” (although in most cases vague inklings would probably be a more accurate way to describe them) and provide working drawings that reflect their “thinking.”  

In my estimation, more than three-quarters of these plans lack any real indication of what the designers expect the water to do or how they want it to look.  Instead, what I get is the typical overhead views with the ubiquitous “blue ghosts” or, in some cases, rudimentary sections of structures designed to contain water.  It’s left to me to probe and ask questions and determine what expectations they have about how the water is to appear and what it is to do.

I’ve endured these common plan shortcomings for more years than I care to count, always wondering

Within the broader specialty of fountain design, fabrication and installation, the art of designing and installing self-contained floating fountains for ponds, rivers and lakes might best be seen as a similar but separate technical specialization – as an art within an art. Here, veteran designer Richard Van Seters explores this unique niche, using his experience and insight to pull back the veil on a type of watershaping that is unlike any other.
Within the broader specialty of fountain design, fabrication and installation, the art of designing and installing self-contained floating  fountains for ponds, rivers and lakes might best be seen as a similar but separate technical specialization – as an art within an art.  Here, veteran designer Richard Van Seters explores this unique niche, using his experience and insight to pull back the veil on a type of watershaping that is unlike any other.
By Richard J. Van Seters

When it comes to the myriad specialties of the world of watershaping, it’s tough to think of any as broad as the one occupied by floating fountains:  It’s a category of systems that encompass flotation, illumination, spray systems, submersible pumps, connecting devices and land-based controls.

On the one hand are the huge systems installed near the shores of lakes and rivers.  These fountains can be monumental in size and visually dramatic – the sorts of popular landmarks that become tourist attractions and, often, community icons.  On the other, there are the countless smaller floating fountains and aerators located in golf-course ponds and water hazards, in municipal-park and stormwater ponds, on private estates and institutional campuses and in the bays of larger bodies of water, either as single features or as groups.

For 45 years now, our firm has been fortunate enough to have designed (and at times installed) floating fountain systems across this full spectrum, from the large and spectacular to the small and surprisingly subtle.  

Some have been purely decorative, while others have been totally

Sculptor Alan Hochman has carved out a unique niche for himself by using the visual drama of natural stone and combining it with subtle flows of water. These works of sublime beauty and expressiveness draw inspiration from nature, eastern philosophy and a lifetime of study, but he carefully tailors each piece to suit a specific site and the needs of clients who share his passion for sculptures that play with contrasts and even contradictions.
Sculptor Alan Hochman has carved out a unique niche for himself by using the visual drama of natural stone and combining it with subtle flows of water.  These works of sublime beauty and expressiveness draw inspiration from nature, eastern philosophy and a lifetime of study, but he carefully tailors each piece to suit a specific site and the needs of clients who share his passion for sculptures that play with contrasts and even contradictions.
By Alan Hochman

When people ask me how long it takes to create one of my sculptures, I sometimes like to answer, “My whole life.”

I’ve always loved art and started collecting it while still in high school, but I never imagined in those formative years that I’d become an artist myself.  After all, I have no formal training, and to this day I can’t draw – not well, at any rate.

My first career was as a computer programmer, my second as a marketing consultant – both distinctly sedentary occupations that led me to seek something physical to do in my spare time.  For whatever reason, I decided to try my hand at sculpting stone, crafting a few rough pieces and taking pleasure mostly from the hard work they involved.

Right from the start, however, people

Art with mosaic tile reaches back thousands of years to the ancient Greeks and Romans, yet in addition to its classic appearance it also has a flexibility that makes it fully adaptable to modern applications. This combination of design tradition and contemporary possibilities has led the artists at Vita Nova of Van Nuys, Calif., to step up and create new tile mosaics that keep all aspects of the material’s aesthetic potential front and center.
Art with mosaic tile reaches back thousands of years to the ancient Greeks and Romans, yet in addition to its classic appearance it also has a flexibility that makes it fully adaptable to modern applications.  This combination of design tradition and contemporary possibilities has led the artists at Vita Nova of Van Nuys, Calif., to step up and create new tile mosaics that keep all aspects of the material’s aesthetic potential front and center.
By Rodger Gariano

For the last few months, the Getty Villa in Malibu, Calif., has hosted a special exhibit called “Stories in Stone,” which is all about the nature, preservation and conservation of stone mosaics found in the ancient Roman cities of North Africa.  

Even a quick walk through the halls is enough to show why these art objects speak to us across the millennia:  Their colors are vivid, their decorative capacity is amazing, their durability is unrivalled and their sheer beauty is a delight even to the unschooled eye.

At best, tile mosaics of any caliber are both aesthetic and functional, timeless and contemporary, subtle and dramatic.  They are also versatile – interior or exterior, commercial or residential – and have long been among the very best media available to designers and architects looking to infuse their work with the

Successful public art serves many purposes, observes glass sculptor John Gilbert Luebtow: Through form, location, materials and aesthetics, these works can inspire, soothe, excite, guide and enrich the day-to-day experiences of those who see them. True to this vision, he pursued all of those qualities in a recent project – one in which he graced a busy plaza with a sublime sculpture that will elevate the spirits of passersby for generations to come.
Successful public art serves many purposes, observes glass sculptor John Gilbert Luebtow:  Through form, location, materials and aesthetics, these works can inspire, soothe, excite, guide and enrich the day-to-day experiences of those who see them.  True to this vision, he pursued all of those qualities in a recent project – one in which he graced a busy plaza with a sublime sculpture that will elevate the spirits of passersby for generations to come.
By John Gilbert Luebtow

As a sculptor, I always seek ways to use my work to create positive (and sometimes intellectually challenging) experiences for those who have the opportunity to see what I’ve done.  

In my case, most of the time I’m not trying to make direct, narrative or literal statements.  Instead, I seek to conjure feelings of fascination that lead to appreciation and enjoyment:  You don’t necessarily have to understand the forms I create to walk away from them with good feelings.

When I have the opportunity to work in public settings (as was the case in the project featured on these pages), I’m stimulated by the idea that large numbers of people will be exposed to my sculpture and that, in many cases, those people will be exposed to what I’ve done over and over again because they’ll be passing by at least twice each day as they go to and from their jobs in adjacent buildings.

In this case, I was working next to an office tower in Century City – a famous business and entertainment district near downtown Los Angeles – which meant that thousands would repeatedly be walking right past my work and would come to accept it as part of their daily lives.  In that light, I see art set amid architecture as a permanent commitment, as a cultural reference that has the potential to resound for generations.  

This recognition fills me with a heightened sense of

Since 1971, Haddonstone Ltd. has provided fountains, garden accents and architectural components to designers around the world. Using a cast-stone process that results in artful replicas of classic profiles as well as various contemporary and custom objects, the company’s aim has always been to give watershapers, landscape artists and architects ready access to a selection of exterior decorations suited to a range of projects and styles.
Since 1971, Haddonstone Ltd. has provided fountains, garden accents and architectural components to designers around the world.  Using a cast-stone process that results in artful replicas of classic profiles as well as various contemporary and custom objects, the company’s aim has always been to give watershapers, landscape artists and architects ready access to a selection of exterior decorations suited to a range of projects and styles.
By Adrian R. Coles

Natural stone is one of the planet’s most enduring artistic media and has been used in all historical eras across all design traditions in richly varied ways.  From the pyramids of Egypt to the Great Wall of China, from the friezes of the Parthenon to the masterpieces of Michelangelo, it has always been the material of choice for work that matters.

For all its beauty and durability, however, natural stone has its limitations:  Even in modern times with modern technology, it must be quarried or harvested; fabrication of finished pieces is laborious; and its weight makes moving it from place to place both costly and time-consuming.  It’s also not a renewable material:  Supplies of many of the world’s most favored types are restricted, and some are simply no longer available.

It’s in this context that cast stone has emerged as a viable alternative in reproducing the looks, textures and sheer physical presence of natural stone materials.  We at Haddonstone Ltd., for example, offer cast-stone products that can be used in architectural, landscape and watershape settings in ways that are virtually indistinguishable from pieces made of marble or limestone – and do so at a fraction of the cost with a consistency and precision that are difficult to achieve with natural materials.

We started modestly in 1971 with a facility near Northampton, England, that turned out just seven ornamental pieces in cast stone.  In the ensuing years, that list has grown to include more than

Water and works of art have been near-constant companions for millennia, but that traditional pairing seems to be generating new enthusiasm, says watershape designer/builder Randy Beard, with more and more property owners seeking to make unique statements by putting artworks on display in and around water. He takes a look at this emerging trend here, using a number of his recent projects in southern California to illustrate the point.
Water and works of art have been near-constant companions for millennia, but that traditional pairing seems to be generating new enthusiasm, says watershape designer/builder Randy Beard, with more and more property owners seeking to make unique statements by putting artworks on display in and around water.  He takes a look at this emerging trend here, using a number of his recent projects in southern California to illustrate the point.
By Randy Beard

As watershape design expands beyond the mostly recreational traditions of the recent past, more of us are being asked these days to design water elements that work more decoratively and serve to frame, reflect and otherwiseaccentuate or accompany art pieces.  

In these situations, a pool, fountain or basin design is visually driven by the artwork, and whether the project is done for a private residence or a commercial complex, the results can be wonderfully dynamic.  In most cases, requests for this design approach come from an owner who has a particular piece in mind; in a few other cases, the artist will commission a watershape to accompany a main attraction of his or her devising and becomes a key participant in the design process.  

All in all, I see this as another manifestation of a trend in which

b_400_400_16777215_00_images_archart_200806Platinum_200806OHearn_1.jpgIn December 2004, WaterShapes introduced ‘The Platinum Standard,’ a registry of projects that embodies watershaping at its finest.  Now, as part of our celebration of the magazine’s 100th Issue, Eric Herman offers ‘The Platinum Standard II,’ a fresh set of 20 projects that have graced the pages of the magazine in the past three-and-a-half years – projects that demonstrate clearly that watershaping has become an art form in its own right.

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Larry O’Hearn
Crystal Fountains
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

 

 

 

 

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Conceptualized by Portuguese artist Jaume Plensa and executed by Crystal Fountains, the Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park is among the most unique watershapes ever created. 

A fittingly monumental addition to a city filled with monuments, the fountain features two glass towers (faced off across an interactive waterplay area) that, among other things, show videos of Chicago citizens whose projected mouths become waterspouts that shoot water onto the plaza below

b_400_400_16777215_00_images_archart_200806Platinum_200806BurleMarx_1.jpgIn December 2004, WaterShapes introduced ‘The Platinum Standard,’ a registry of projects that embodies watershaping at its finest.  Now, as part of our celebration of the magazine’s 100th Issue, Eric Herman offers ‘The Platinum Standard II,’ a fresh set of 20 projects that have graced the pages of the magazine in the past three-and-a-half years – projects that demonstrate clearly that watershaping has become an art form in its own right.

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Roberto Burle Marx
Presented by Raymond Jungles
Jungles Landscape Architect
Miami, Fla.

Roberto Burle Marx was certainly one of the world’s greatest landscape artists – a master whose work invariably reflected the visual energy of his native Brazil and who has inspired generations of designers who’ve followed in his brilliant footsteps.  He worked with water, plants and architecture with extraordinary sensitivity of a sort that can readily be seen in this structure, where a simple composition in dark stone becomes a study in cascading water, brimming pools and transcendent beauty.

b_400_400_16777215_00_images_archart_200806Platinum_200806KahnTuttle_1.jpgIn December 2004, WaterShapes introduced ‘The Platinum Standard,’ a registry of projects that embodies watershaping at its finest.  Now, as part of our celebration of the magazine’s 100th Issue, Eric Herman offers ‘The Platinum Standard II,’ a fresh set of 20 projects that have graced the pages of the magazine in the past three-and-a-half years – projects that demonstrate clearly that watershaping has become an art form in its own right.

b_400_400_16777215_00_images_archart_200806Platinum_200806KahnTuttle_2.jpgClaire Kahn Tuttle
WET Design
Sun Valley, Calif.

Called upon to revitalize a historic intersection just outside New York’s Central Park, the visionaries at WET Design created interactive fountains that turned Columbus Circle into a public destination with the highest possible profile. 

b_400_400_16777215_00_images_archart_200806Platinum_200806KahnTuttle_3.jpgTerraced, circular decks and programmable dancing waters now offer a grand invitation to pedestrians to come close and cool off or simply enjoy the space and the surrounding city views – a great gathering place in the heart of one of the world’s greatest cities.

When a St. Louis-area developer wanted water to be a prominent part of a new project in nearby St. Charles, Mo., says Anne Gunn, it made sense for him to contact Hydro Dramatics, a local firm that has created an impressive list of fountains and other waterfeatures throughout the region. In this case, the need was for a set of floating fountains to set the tone for his development while linking it to history – and a pair of famous rivers.
When a St. Louis-area developer wanted water to be a prominent part of a new project in nearby St. Charles, Mo., says Anne Gunn, it made sense for him to contact Hydro Dramatics, a local firm that has created an impressive list of fountains and other waterfeatures throughout the region.  In this case, the need was for a set of floating fountains to set the tone for his development while linking it to history – and a pair of famous rivers.
By Anne Gunn

Sometimes finding just what you need is as easy as looking in your own backyard.

That’s what happened for Greg Whittaker of Whittaker Homes, one of Missouri’s largest home builders, when he began searching for the right partner to provide dramatic watershapes for New Town, an innovative community in St. Charles, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis.

Situated on the site of what had been a farming community, New Town is intended to invoke and embody a comfortable lifestyle for the 21st Century.  Parklands filled with water were the key to Whittaker’s vision not just for aesthetic and thematic reasons, but also for stormwater management.  

While visiting St. Louis’ Forest Park, a venerable civic treasure, Whittaker saw the

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