Les Fontaines Internationales
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
Fountain Assets
As a company that's been around for many years in the landscape and pool trades, we knew as we expanded our offerings to include fountain restoration, design and installation that experience and contacts would eventually lead to referrals. What's been unexpected given our past work with mainly residential clients is that fact that our fountain referrals have come in bunches as we work with developers and architects and get involved in
Grand Solutions
It's the nature of the game: One of the great sources of pride for any good watershaping business has to do with its ability to find solutions to difficult challenges - a new way to achieve something familiar when the established or conventional approach won't work, for example, or dealing with site constraints that repeatedly send you back to the drawing board. That's the sort of pride we had coming out of our work on the Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain and its accompanying splash pad at Grand Park in Los Angeles, and it was intensified by the fact that this was the restoration of a 60-year-old fountain that had originally been built with an entirely different approach from anything we'd consider today - but whose physical constraints we couldn't
Committed to Balance
For most of my professional life, I've worked on projects in which the dominant color is green. With the project under discussion here, however, both the client and the setting called for something quite different. As I knew going in, the property, located in Northridge, Calif., is both a residence and a place of business, so on any given workday multiple cars and trucks invade the space and need convenient places to park. But while this primary use of a plaza-scale space as a parking pad suited clients' business needs, it was plainly too dusty and downright bleak to offer any
Grand Expectations
With any watershape renovation project, there's a great deal of anticipation of what you'll discover once the system is dismantled to whatever degree or level is necessary. In some cases, all is well and the process of reworking structures and systems unfolds smoothly. In others, however, there are surprises that can take your breath away. This was one of those "other" cases - the restoration of an historic fountain that had been in place since 1958 as well as the upgrading of an adjacent space to accommodate a splash pad for interactive play and provide a stage for
The Floating Stones
This story starts with a tree falling in the forest. It wasn't just any tree: It was a huge locust that had stood next to what is now my driveway for years beyond reckoning, and when it came down it did its best to take a tangle of utility lines with it. I wasn't there when all of this happened, but I returned soon thereafter and saw the lingering effects: The utility companies had done a wonderful job of cutting away portions of the tree that had fallen onto the wires and had effectively cleared the road, but
Northern Exposure
Through the past few years, certain parts of Idaho have seen large influxes of people from California, some of them seeking more bucolic lifestyles, others heading into retirement and still others looking for places where taxes are lower than they are in the Golden State. As it turns out, these folks have been transplanting more than just their personal hopes and dreams, with pieces of California culture following them wherever they go. They're arriving in cities like Boise with preferences in mind as well as the resources required to make
Sweeping Beauty
One of the things we value most in our fountain projects is that no two of them are ever the same. I can make that same statement about our custom pool projects, of course, but it's a matter of degree: Where uniqueness from pool to pool is about selecting just the right possibilities among shapes, elevations and materials, for instance, from fountain to fountain it's about inventing and adapting technology and pushing accepted limits to make ideas work. The fountain under discussion in this article is a perfect illustration of that distinction. Making it happen was about
Shall We Dance?
Picture this: A seaside fountain in which jets of water are arrayed and programed to emulate a Pacific Ocean swell. It's designed as a mirror to existing conditions, using real-time ocean-observation data to determine the exact timing and height of the fountain's jet sequence. Or this: An installation scheduled by its managers to function as an interactive-play fountain at certain times of the day when children are likeliest to be present, or as a musical/performing fountain in the evenings or at other times when the property owner's desire is to entertain and help people relax. Or this: A fountain that
Public Pursuits
Among the best things about Philadelphia is its stock of public art - and that's not accidental:  For many years, all construction projects in specific neighborhoods reaching certain dollar thresholds have been required to include an accessible work of art within their footprints.  Whether it's a sculpture, a mural, a statue celebrating a Founding Father or a waterfeature, the city now boasts more than 1,000 of these art pieces, each one part of an outstanding cultural and historical landscape.   One of our recent projects fit within this program:  Located just across the way from Independence Hall, it's part of a