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The Ultimate Canvas

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I envy landscape architects and designers and your involvement in the design of everything from small, intimate residential spaces to sweeping acreage intended for public use.

This creation of “exterior spaces for human occupation,” as some have called it, is a fascinating profession, and I can only imagine how satisfying it must be to take a project from concept to reality and ultimately see these spaces come to life as people begin to interact with the newly built environment and move among all of its features.

When we began publishing WaterShapes four years ago, we saw that a good portion of our readers and authors ultimately would come from the ranks of landscape architects and designers, but I don’t believe we envisioned back then just how strong those ties would so quickly become. After all, where the pool and spa industry is 100% about water, only a portion of the typical landscape project has to do with any sort of watershape.

Virtually from the start, however, the response to the magazine from the landscape community has been supportive and more enthusiastic than we could ever have imagined. We knew that we were on solid ground with the pool industry before we put any ink on paper; we’ve now confirmed that we were on terra firma with the landscape trades right from the start as well.

Universally, we’ve encountered tremendous interest in what makes watershapes tick – how they’re designed, how they fit into their settings, what materials work, what systems make the most of the available effects, how they’re installed, how they are fine-tuned and, ultimately, how the vision becomes reality. As it turns out, what we saw as common ground for pool people and landscape people was a grander and more compelling space than even we had thought.

The diversity of what we’ve found continues to amaze me. In this issue, for example, we have two articles from landscape architects that represent opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to scale, scope and purpose.

In “Cooling the Flock” by John Copley and Lynn Wolff (click here), we follow the renovation of a big deck-level fountain and plaza in Boston’s historic Back Bay neighborhood. Here, we find a watershape originally designed as an ornament for a significant church that has evolved into a gathering place for throngs of area children who use the fountain to beat the summer heat. It’s a renovation with a lofty architectural purpose that also involves a keen understanding of interactivity and children at play.

By contrast, in “Echoes of Grandeur” by Lauchlin Bethune (click here), we survey the work of a landscape architect who specializes in creating naturalistic watershapes for a mostly residential clientele in the Seattle area. The work is smaller in scale and more intimate than is the case for Copley and Wolff, but Bethune’s work involves just as keen a sense of the setting and the sublimely interactive nature of water in motion.

When you break it down, what these two articles have most in common is the creative use of water. That, it seems, is just about all it takes.

Perhaps this is why so many landscape architects and designers have come to see WaterShapes as a publication that very much serves their interests as well as those of pool, pond and fountain designers and builders. Perhaps this is so because water itself is able to exist, comfortably and beautifully, wherever designers of any variety are striving to create enduring beauty.

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