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0India's ancient stepwells were about much more than providing their thirsty communities with water.  As Victoria Lautman discusses in the second of three articles on these structures, facilities including Rani ki Vav also served both men and women as multi-purpose gathering spots.

 

 

By Jim McCloskey

A pre-holiday visit with our grandchildren and their parents earlier this month gave me the opportunity to return to one of my favorite Seattle-area attractions: The Bellevue Botanical Garden. Covering 53 acres with long, easy trails and generous, well-tended plant displays, the facility also includes expressive watershapes in a variety of forms.

I took an immediate

India's stepwells are truly amazing, but relatively few people know anything about them.  Victoria Lautman wants to change all that, reporting on their long history in a book -- and in a series for WaterShapes on three of the country's most wondrous architectural and cultural treasures.

 

0By Jim McCloskey

My recent time in Philadelphia was actually a return after a long break: When my brother lived there in the 1970s and ’80s, I would frequently extend business trips when I was in the area to spend time with him in what became one of my favorite cities. I haven’t done much more than pass through since he moved away, but my daughter lives there now and has given me a great reason to renew my acquaintance with the place.

Among the coolest things

0By Jim McCloskey

One thing I can safely say about the California city where I grew up is that it’s a lot different from what it was like when I was a kid.

Back in the 1960s, the area across from Santa Monica’s City Hall was a mass of parking lots, office buildings and other hard, unattractive surfaces. The famed Civic Auditorium was at one end of the street, and a Moderne-style

0By Jim McCloskey

Everything I write about in these Travelogues is a personal experience, but this one in particular hits very close to home.

I heard a lot about this sculpture, known now as “Heliconia Loop,” for months as it was being created, following along avidly as the deadline for

Wrapping up his discussion of the restoration of the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle, Matthew Reynolds covers the painstaking process of resurfacing the shell with new marble as an exact replica of the original and making ready for the reintroduction of 350,000 gallons of water.
Wrapping up his discussion of the restoration of the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle, Matthew Reynolds covers the painstaking process of resurfacing the shell with new marble as an exact replica of the original and making ready for the reintroduction of 350,000 gallons of water.
By Matthew Reynolds

Working outdoors in the California sun is typically seen as a desirable perk, especially when, as in this case, the on-site alternative was working below ground in a confined labyrinth of narrow passages with limitless opportunities for banging your head. But here, it’s my general sense that the plumbers working below ground on Hearst Castle’s Neptune Pool (San Simeon, Calif.) had an easier row to hoe than did the marble applicators working in the open air.

For one thing, tasks performed on the interior surface of the pool were

0By Jim McCloskey

One of my favorite destinations in downtown Los Angeles is the Central Library. Not only is it an amazing resource with the books and recordings it circulates to citizens and scholars, but it also houses wonderful display spaces where all sorts of thoughtfully curated exhibitions await visitors. I’ve stopped in many times since the 1960s and count it among southern California’s

It's been an honor to restore the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle, writes Matthew Reynolds. But working under its shell posed multiple challenges, from cramped spaces and hard-to-track piping runs to the constant awareness they were tinkering with a precious cultural treasure.
It's been an honor to restore the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle, writes Matthew Reynolds.  But working under its shell posed multiple challenges, from cramped spaces and hard-to-track piping runs to the constant awareness they were tinkering with a precious cultural treasure.
By Matthew Reynolds

It’s not often that an opportunity to work on anything as renowned as the Neptune Pool comes around. Built first as a reflecting pool, transformed into an oval-shaped plunge pool and, as Hearst Castle assumed massive proportions, ultimately finished as a 350,000-gallon swimming pool that’s probably the most widely recognized watershape in the world, it’s a pleasure just to see it, let alone help preserve it for future generations.

We at Terracon, an engineering firm based in Olathe, Kans., came to the project through our acquisition late in 2014 of Rowley International, the aquatic design and engineering company based in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. William Rowley, its principal and a specialist in sophisticated aquatic complexes – and, equally important

0By Jim McCloskey

From time to time, I’ll come across a fountain or waterfeature where jets or streams of water are used to suggest “motion” on the part of an accompanying fixed object. The objects in question are typically made of stone or metal – that is, materials embodying solidity, heft, timelessness and the utter absence

0By Jim McCloskey

For me, one of the highlights of the 20th Anniversary Celebration for Genesis was the place most of us stayed:  The Allegretto Vineyard Resort is a spectacular facility created as an extension of the imagination of the property’s owner, Douglas Ayres.

The hotel embodies an eclectic blend of design concepts, from dashes of feng shui to dollops of talk-to-the-land spiritualism mixed in with

After sizing up the situation with the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle, William Rowley took the next step and developed an engineering plan to aid in restoring the plumbing system, structure and overall functionality of one of the world's most recognized and celebrated watering holes.
After sizing up the situation with the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle, William Rowley took the next step and developed an engineering plan to aid in restoring the plumbing system, structure and overall functionality of one of the world's most recognized and celebrated watering holes.
By William N. Rowley

The first of this pair of articles mentioned that Julia Morgan had completed the architecture program at Beaux-Arts in Paris in three years rather than the usual five, but I didn’t mention all of the circumstances.

One of the rules of that institution prohibited the instruction of students after their thirtieth birthdays, which seems a totally bizarre limitation to us now but apparently made sense to French academicians at the turn of the 20th Century.  Given the delays in her gaining a position at the school, she’d entered the program with the clock ticking and really had no choice but to

0By Jim McCloskey

When I wrote about Lawrence Halprin’s Keller Fountain in Portland, Ore., in August 2012, I had meant to cover its Portland cousin, the Lovejoy Fountain, within a few months that have now turned into several years.  Apologies for failing to double back sooner, because they really do fit together better than this span of time would suggest.

Lovejoy Plaza was the first completed installation in what is now known as

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