Thursday, March 11, 2010

Water Feature and Water Fountain

Water Features and  Water Fountains in Urban Center
Just couple of weeks ago, I was at Building Department of San Jose City in California for Residential Remodel Permit. After spending couple of frustrating hours in the newly constructed building, I decided to pick up a cup of coffee from Starbucks across the street and hoping that coffee will answer my all questions. I was walking through the plaza of the city hall and came by low profile water feature and could not stop taking my handy camera out to click few photos.

Water has super power and it is the necessity of life. Many cities and towns are built and developed around water body. Water is one of the four classical elements in ancient Greek philosophy and science. It creates emotions and has very deep meaning for many people. Architect, landscape architects and artists use water in their design in different ways.

City Hall, San Jose, CA -These two water features sitting side by side and spreads in the plaza in front of the newly built city hall. Water gently rolls over thin slabs of stones chiseled on the edges and layered and stacked in a gentle and smooth wave pattern. It is designed by the artist Anna Valentina Murch and Douglas Hollis. The artists have placed the large boulders in unexpected ways around the water fountains, breaking the continuous geometry. The height of this water feature is very low so the people on the side roads can see it from their cars. Also, the scale of the water feature relates to human scale and helps create visual and auditory connection to people around.

My photo does not even show the other features of this water fountain, which you can see misting and spraying of water from vertical steel pipes. The lighting enhances the plaza and the city hall in the night. 

 Check out the photos on artist's website-

Logan Square Fountain- The Swan Memorial Fountain 
The Swan Memorial water fountain in Logan Circle in Philadelphia is very historical and symbolic in design. Its location is chosen to connect Philadelphia's famous City Hall to the Museum of Art through an axis. It was built in 1924 by Wilson Eyre, Jr. and sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder.  It is also known as the fountain of Three Rivers  and surrounded by three bronze figures, representing Philadelphia's principal waterways - the Schuylkill as a mature woman, the Wissahickon Creek as a girl and the Delaware River is as a man.

The spectacular Swann Memorial Fountain is Logan Circle's great attraction. But the location is in the center isolated by many lanes of vehicles around so people have to work hard to enjoy and experience its beauty.

The traditional fountains are circular in design with one focal point so people gather around and enjoy it as shown in the photo taken in Philadelphia city. The materials used here are traditional sculptural materials such as cast bronze is used. Water plays very dominant role and make fountain visible from distance. It creates loud sound of water spraying from 50’ distance. It has its own identity.

Water feature near San Jose city hall is not a place of destination but it is on the way of pedestrians creating experience. On the other hand Swann Memorial Fountain is designed to be a place of destination.  Both water features are very different in form, design and nature but designed for people in urban center. If designed and placed properly, water features can create a sense of a happy place and can leave memorable experience in your brain. 

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