By Eric Herman
To excel as professionals, watershapers need to develop a good working knowledge of a range of technical disciplines – hydraulics, materials science and geology, for example – and know the ins and outs of structural, electrical and mechanical engineering.
No single person needs to have certified expertise in all of those fields, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that anyone who enters the watershaping realm needs to be conversant in the mix of disciplines he or she must coordinate if the goal of creating beautiful environments for human activity and enjoyment is to be achieved.
This calls for leadership as well as competence, experience and good contacts among the specialists and sub-specialists who help bring projects to fruition.
As you’ll see in two features in this issue, this level of watershaping expertise, this skill in devising and managing significant projects, also opens up the possibility of stepping outside watershaping per se to pursue opportunities beyond the industry’s usual definitions.
One possible outward step is covered in the special commentary by Steven Peck and Damon van der Linde of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a Toronto-based organization devoted to encouraging the growth of the green roof industry. Without stealing his thunder, van der Linde points out that the design and installation of green roofs crosses boundaries in such a way that watershapers can and should be deeply involved in his industry’s future.
To his argument, let me add my own observation that the green-roof industry is still in its formative stages, so the potential for watershapers to get engaged with it on the ground floor is still a possibility – a thought that intrigues me as much as it should motivate you. After all, in a marketplace where environmental concerns rank high in consumers’ minds, this may be a wave that can be ridden many years into the future.
In that same spirit but on a completely different level, we also take a look in this issue at the world of decorative concrete in “Casting Nature” by Tommy T. Cook. An artist and teacher, he demonstrates here the flexibility of decorative concrete as a medium – in this case for creating custom fountains based on the delicate contours of an exotic plant – and offers just one example of the limitless possibilities afforded by the material.
Cook is a fascinating fellow I met last March at the Concrete Décor Show in Phoenix. I was there mostly out of curiosity – and was completely amazed by the potential for crossover and conceptual cross-fertilization between watershapers and decorative concrete artists. It is indeed another field in which I see plenty of room for watershapers to get involved.
In these difficult times, reaching out in new and promising directions simply makes sense. And if some of those directions rely on skills you’ve developed through your experiences in shaping water, well, all the better!