Other Waterfeatures (from birdbaths to lakes)

Forming Flows
I was out of a job in Gloucester, England, several years back when I came across a collection of wonderfully unusual sculptures that changed my life. These compositions, called Flowforms, were the work of British sculptor John Wilkes, an inspired artist who for most of his professional life has explored ways to use water’s nature and characteristics as his medium. I was immediately drawn to what I saw:  I’d worked as an estate gardener before being trained as a sculptor at the St. Martin School of Art in London and had always had an interest in natural forms and all sorts of experimental media.  I had also spent a good part of
Buoyant Explorations
There may still be some who resist the idea, but by now it is verifiable fact that plant material can be used to treat and purify water in artificial watershapes as well as in natural bodies of water.  For decades, in fact, scientists have borne witness to these processes in natural wetlands – so much so that today, these concepts are being studied around the world using artificial wetlands and floating islands that mimic natural structures and processes. Our firm, Floating Island International of Shepherd, Mont., is predictably focused on the floating island concept.  In our efforts to understand all of the nuances and specifics of how plants on floating islands can be used to best advantage, we have made contact and worked worldwide with scores of independent researchers and institutions across a range of settings, applications and agendas. Yes, we’ve been gratified by the resulting findings and the benefits that reportedly flow from use of our systems.  In a more important and greater context, however, we see this collection of empirical data and anecdotal evidence as conclusive proof that biological water treatment is not only viable, but is also surprisingly
Eyes on the Skies
Among the wonderful benefits of working in the custom watershaping business is that you never really know what sort of projects will wander into view. Through the years, we at  Live Water Creations of Santa Rosa, Calif., have certainly participated in developing and executing some unusual designs, but I can honestly say that working on one that included a huge, beautiful steel pyramid topped by a deep-space telescope was something that had yet to come our way.    And it would have stayed that way had I not received a call from John Anderson of Pools by Rapp, another firm here in Santa Rosa.  We’ve collaborated on other projects in which our firm has built ponds or fountains to go along with pools and spas he’s done.  In this case, he was installing a lap pool and wanted our help in what he could only describe as an extremely unusual watershape. The client said he had just built a beautiful contemporary home and, as an astronomy buff, wanted to complete the package with
A Base of Comfort
Wanting to soften and humanize the austere appearance of a new facility for homeless families, the benefactors of the Orange County Rescue Mission in Tustin, Calif., commissioned an unusual watershape.  The idea pulled watershaper Mark Holden and project manager Jim Bucklin into a whirlwind in which they had to create unique systems to accommodate the world’s largest ceramic amphora – and do so within an extraordinarily tight deadline. What happens when one of the country’s wealthiest philanthropists provides funding for a truly unique art piece in support of a favorite cause?  The short answer is, everyone jumps to make it happen.   That was literally the situation when a nonprofit organization that serves the needs of homeless families received a donation from its largest benefactor to fund construction of an unusual fountain system.  The waterfeature, we learned, was to support the world’s largest amphora, which at that time was just being completed by a Danish artist.   Destined for the courtyard of a new facility about to be
Pint-Size Inspiration
I must say that I look forward to receiving my own copy of WaterShapes in the mail each month.  It’s not because I can’t wait to see my own columns in print; rather, it’s because so I’m amazed and inspired by the work watershapers put on display here that I always devour each and every page.   That’s not, by the way, anything I’d say about the rest of the 30-odd trade magazines I receive via mail or e-mail.  WaterShapes always seems to deal with the best of the best, and reading about how these incredible projects come together is
Sailing Grace
Challenged to develop a sculpture that would make a strong statement about the commissioning company’s expertise in engineering and motion-control technology, Michael Batchelor and Andrey Bererzowsky of Montreal’s SWON Design delivered a work of subtle beauty to an otherwise stark architectural context.  Here’s a close look at the resulting medley of textured glass, sheeting water, gleaming steel and arcing jets, all set within curving ponds.     With residential projects, the importance of understanding the character and focus of the client is widely recognized and appreciated.  Although the scales are different and the “clients” may be committees, we’ve discovered that the same is basically true with commercial projects as well.   A case in point is this project, which we completed for Parker Hannifin, the Mayfield, Ohio-based manufacturer of engineering components and a multi-billion-dollar company whose products are found on everything from Space Shuttles to precision industrial machinery.  Appropriately, the sculpture we were asked to design was to reflect a highly refined, disciplined sense of beauty. We at SWON Design were first contacted by an independent marketing consultant, Karen Skunta, who was participating in the company’s effort to re-brand itself – a program that, in part, included
Awakening a Dream
Certainly one of the world’s most unusual watershaping achievements, ‘Le Reve’ is a Las Vegas-style aquatic production that carries audiences into an amazing dream world of water, light, music and incredible acrobatic skill.  To achieve the water effects, former Cirque du Soleil producer Franco Dragone turned to Aviram Müller and Canada’s Kaarajal Design Aquatique – and the result is a marriage of watershaping art and technology unlike any other. Franco Dragone’s design team first contacted me late in 2003.  His company, which organizes groups of design firms to create some of the world’s most elaborate stage productions, was working on a new Las Vegas extravaganza for hotelier Steve Wynn. Wynn’s properties are famous for their water effects, including the wonderful fountains in front of Bellagio on the Las Vegas Strip.  I was told that his then-current project, the Wynn Resort, was to feature similarly spectacular water elements – one of which was to be
An Elegant Slice
Our involvement with Vera Katz Park started with a phone call from Alan Beard of GBD Architects, a firm that has been responsible for designing several signature buildings in Portland, Ore. The project at hand was the complex renovation and transformation of the city's National Guard Armory into a modern theater and the new home of the Portland Center Stage Theater Company.  After an energetic interview process, we were selected to design the site's landscape.   We were enthusiastic about the project from the start.  The sidewalk area we were designing is an integral part of the redevelopment of what's known as the Pearl District, a former industrial area now being revitalized with mixed-use buildings and high-rise developments.  At 200 feet long by 20 feet wide, the space presented an interesting design challenge in an area much in need of parks and public places. The city's goal is to establish pedestrian connections throughout the neighborhood while creating a sense of community within the district.  For our part, we saw the site, which was to be named in honor of former Portland mayor Vera Katz, a devoted supporter of the arts who had been instrumental in the repurposing of the Armory Building, as an opportunity to create a
Glass Works: Michael Batchelor’s and Andrey Berezowsky’s Platinum Standard Project
In December 2004, WaterShapes introduced ‘The Platinum Standard,’ a registry of projects that embodies watershaping…
Restoring a Classic: Dave Wooten’s Platinum Standard Project
In December 2004, WaterShapes introduced ‘The Platinum Standard,’ a registry of projects that embodies watershaping…