In 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.
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.
Terraced, 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.
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
By Aviram Müller
In recent centuries, watershapers have done a tremendous job of figuring out how water behaves in visual and aural terms and learned how to use those characteristics to make strong aesthetic impressions.
Now that we’re entering an era in which environmental concerns are of increasing importance, however, we’re being challenged to think differently about water, how it affects us physically and the essential role it plays in maintaining a healthy world.
That challenge is not insubstantial: As a species, we’ve done a great deal to squander water as an asset, whether by contaminating and otherwise polluting natural bodies of water or by treating pools and other watershapes with harsh chemicals. Isn’t it ironic that spas, which exist primarily so we can
By Simon Gardiner
Advances in fountain technology have defined a new class of animated watershapes that is not only more sophisticated but is also becoming more readily available. Here, Simon Gardiner of Crystal Fountains shares a pair of projects to illustrate how just two of these technologies – that is, submersible LED lighting and systems that make water dance – are helping his company and others bring fresh excitement to watershapes worldwide.
The international fountain business is an exciting, highly competitive and ever-challenging field, basically because the clients are as distinctive as the projects they commission, the settings they provide and the countries they represent. At Crystal Fountains (Toronto), we’ve staked our reputation in the global marketplace on understanding those distinctions and built our competitive edge on keeping up with technological developments that help us animate spaces with water.
The reason this constant forward progress in technology is so critical is that there’s a persistent, ongoing
By Brian Van Bower
One of the clearest trends I’ve seen in watershaping through the past few years involves the use of water in the front spaces of properties, usually along a driveway or close to the main entrance. It’s something I’ve noticed on both the residential and commercial sides of the business, and these projects really do seem to be gaining traction as more time passes.
In some cases, they might be the only watershape you’ll find on site. In others, they introduce a presence of water to be echoed
By Giorgos Eptaimeros
Oregon watershaper Giorgos Eptaimeros has developed a reputation for providing his clients with the full range of exciting aquatic experiences. Always on the lookout for new options to offer and, more specifically, for ways to bring popular commercial- and waterpark-type features to his residential projects, he recently turned to a leaping-jet/splash-pad kit to bring a dynamic backyard play feature to a distinctly mid-range project.
When I emigrated from Greece to the United States nearly 20 years ago, I already had more than a decade of commercial project management experience under my belt. As is the case with
By Claire Kahn Tuttle
The plaza island at Columbus Circle in New York is an example of urban and civic design at its best. Encircling the heart of this grand space is a subtle fountain system that has turned a busy traffic hub into a welcome gathering place for the city’s residents and visitors. Here, principal designer Claire Kahn Tuttle of WET Design in Sun Valley, Calif., describes the project and the philosophy the company brought to bear in bringing it to fruition.
Tradition has it that, in measuring the distance a place is from New York, the geographical tape measure is placed at the center of Columbus Circle. This makes it easy to see this southwest corner of Manhattan’s Central Park (and the intersection of Broadway, 59th Street and Eighth Avenue) as the true heart of the city.
A massive 70-foot obelisk topped by Gaetano Russo’s statue of Christopher Columbus has stood at the center of the bustling traffic circle since 1892, when it was installed to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the explorer’s arrival in the Americas. The circle itself was part of Frederick Law Olmsted’s
By Richard Hansen
The avant-garde composer John Cage once said, “Art exists to make us aware of the very life we’re living.” I’ve always loved that statement because, as someone working to create works of art, the experiences of my own life have naturally been transferred into the way I’ve chosen to express myself – and, I hope, have enabled me to succeed in bringing other people to an awareness of experiences in their own lives.
For me, water is the key in these transferences: Even though I’m probably more often described as a sculptor of natural stone rather than as a watershaper, the dialogues I have with the materials I use and with those who observe the outcomes have always begun with the way I work with water.
I grew up in the Midwest on the banks of the Mississippi. As a child, I lingered on the untamed shores of the creeks, streams and rivers that laced across an otherwise developed and thoroughly mechanized landscape.
I would read or draw, stroll idly along a stream, or spend hours building a raft or dam. This was well before I’d begun to think about my relationship with water in any sort of artistic way, but there’s no question that those experiences remain at the heart of my passion for working within this
By William Hobbs & Wayne Pierce
Most people know Maya Lin for her bold design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, but watershapers in particular should become familiar with a range of her other works as well. For nearly 15 years, reports William Hobbs, his company has been involved in producing intricate water effects for the famous artist, whose works draw fascinating connections between observers and the mysteries of time and nature.
The marriage of water and art can be extremely powerful and evocative, especially in the hands of a great designer. One who has taken the use of water to sublime and fantastic levels is Maya Lin, the artist who rose to prominence as a
Part I: Setting the Course
By Jim Garland & Tom Yankelitis
Theatrical vitality has to do with structuring stories and creating dramatic narratives that establish sensations of expectation, surprise and reward. It also involves the development of sympathetic, interesting characters as well as engagement in “the moment” – the feeling that a special and wonderful entertainment experience is unfolding before the audience in a specific time and place.
Mastering all of that is a tall order under ordinary circumstances, so you can imagine how we felt in trying to help make it happen on the exposed, unpredictable stern deck of Oasis of the Seas – a prestigious ship that currently claims the title of world’s largest cruise liner.
Fluidity – a Los Angeles-based water design studio – pursues unique, progressive projects for an international clientele that includes architects, landscape architects, civic institutions and real estate developers. Through the years, we’d had considerable experience with theatrical
By Dave Garton
The warmth and solid heft of aged, cast brass are the hallmarks of the antique rice cooker — a treasure acquired in India several years ago — that now makes a statement to visitors approaching a modern Colorado home's front door.
Forged more than 150 years ago using the same techniques employed in making
By Tommy T. Cook
Decorative-concrete artist Tommy T. Cook has built a reputation for being able to create almost anything from concrete using an array of highly refined and boldly artful processes. In this feature, he demonstrates a portion of that skill by describing how he uses the gargantuan Gunnera plant to craft watershapes in which replicas of the plant’s outsized leaves serve as uniquely natural fountain basins and spillways.
Ask anyone who’s tried and it’s almost certain you’ll hear that replicating nature isn’t easy. That hasn’t stopped artists throughout history from trying, however, or from making natural forms an influential source of artistic imagination and ambition.
The great thing about using nature for inspiration is that it’s all around us and all we need to do to draw on it is open our eyes, make good choices and decide how what we see can be used in our creative endeavors.
In my case, I’d worked in decorative concrete for a long time before nature crawled under my skin. It began when
By Larry O’Hearn
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 lots into a civic showcase.
The creation of the 24.5-acre park brought together an unprecedented collection of