By Eric Herman
Dear Mr. Webster,
I have a pair of new words I’d like you to consider for the next edition of your dictionary.
watershape, n. 1. Any engineered, fabricated vessel that contains and controls water. 2. Any representative of a class of engineered, fabricated vessels that includes swimming pools, spas, fountains, waterfalls, streams, waterfeatures and other man-made installations containing and controlling water for either recreational or ornamental use in residential, commercial and institutional settings. 3. A class of custom water-containing installations, generally characterized by the presence of concrete shells.
watershaper, n. 1. Any designer, engineer, builder or subcontractor involved in the production of a watershape.
These two terms are desperately needed to describe the broad range of structures that contain water for either recreational or decorative purposes – and to identify the professionals who design, engineer and build them.
I’m well aware that these terms may take some getting used to, as do most new words and phrases. But there are undeniable economies of expression here. For example, without the word watershape, we’ve been forced to wrestle with an unwieldy set of terms to describe the broad array of structures used to shape water – a list that includes swimming pools, spas, fountains, ponds, waterfeatures, streams and waterfalls – just to name a few.
Likewise, we are often compelled to rattle off an even more impressive list to encompass those who work this aquatic magic. Sure, we can keep on calling them architects, designers, engineers, builders, subcontractors and landscape specialists – or, for the future, we can simply describe them all as watershapers.
Frankly, we’ve found the wordy option to be a messy way of communicating. It’s also confusing because it essentially forces us to subdivide these people at a time when we’re trying to bring them all together using the common professional thread that binds them. And what a wonderful thread that is: the creative use of water!
These are professionals whose installations lighten our moods, renew our spirits, exercise our bodies, rid ourselves of stress and unite families and communities. This is exciting stuff, Mr. Webster, and I trust you’ll agree with me that these charming words belong in our common vocabulary.
I think the definitions offered above speak for themselves, but if you need more information to go on, you need do nothing more than look closely at the pages of the magazine you now have in hand. You’ll find information on construction techniques, design principles and engineering approaches as well as profiles of major projects down to the smallest details.
It’s all here: everything you’ll need to know about water and the magnificent ways it can be shaped to improve our lives.
Thanks for your consideration!