Fountain Art

On the walk between my hotel and my meetings in Houston this week, there is one of these timed fountains. Maybe it’s because I live in fountain-deprived Columbus, but I find it to be fascinating and beautiful. Not in an overpowering, Las Vegas fountain performance to the sounds of Mannheim Steamroller kind of way, but rather for the simplicity of the arcs traced in the air by the controlled bursts of the water.

It makes me wish that Columbus were more like Rome, and that there were more fountains in the world. I’ll take a fountain over a rusting piece of generic abstract art on a corporate plaza any day.

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That Wonderful Start-Of-A-Three-Day-Weekend Feeling

Today the French Wrestling Fan and I went to lunch at Milestone 229, a restaurant on the Scioto Mile.  We ate outside on a beautiful day, with a prime view of the cool outdoor fountains located next to the restaurant.

While we sat there a young girl took her shoes off and ran out to the fountain area.  She had a ball walking barefoot through the water, scuffling her feet and sending sprays of water into the air.  Her innocent fun captured the kind of giddy, fabulous feeling we all get on the cusp of a three-day summer weekend.  

It was all I could do to resist taking off my shoes and walking through the water, too.  We might need to do some barefooting this weekend, however.

More Fountains, Please

IMG_1110They’ve put a new fountain in at one of the entrances to the Columbus Commons.  It’s a nice fountain, with its lily pad look and bright green surrounding shrubbery.  But then, all fountains really are nice, aren’t they?  The burble of the water, the coolness of the air around them, the slight spray on your face, the gleam of the shimmering water on a sunny day — these are the things that make fountains a great addition to any metropolitan area.

If I were in charge of city planning, I’d make sure that a chunk of development money was dedicated to building more fountains.

The Fountains Of Gay Street

IMG_6123Well, okay, the headline for this post is technically accurate but a bit misleading, because Gay Street has precisely two fountains.  Still, it’s appropriately plural, and we’re glad to have them.  This is the larger of the two and is part of the Edwards development that has added a lot of charm and beauty to the area around our buildings.

I love fountains.  I think they add a lot to a neighborhood in terms of sight and sound.  This one looks almost like a horse trough.  I’m hoping that, as Gay Street continues to be built out and additional residential buildings appear, we might add another fountain or two to the wet, watery mix in our neighborhood.

Spray On the Neck

Today I went to lunch with friend and loyal Webner House reader and commenter Mike N.  We met at Milestone 229, at the southern end of the Scioto Mile.

We sat outside, next to the the fountain and sprinkler area that is a huge hit with kids during the summer months, and watched the water show as we talked about what’s going on in the world.  The sky was blue, and the clouds went sailing past on a gentle breeze.  It was a warm day, and I enjoyed the September sun on my back.  It also felt good when the main fountain erupted and the breeze threw a fine spray of cooling water in our direction, lightly dusting the back of my neck.  We had a terrific lunch (thanks for treating, Mike!) and chat, and then we walked back toward the heart of downtown along the Scioto Mile.

When I got back to my desk, I checked the news websites to see if there had been any more riots and attacks on Americans in the Middle East.

Civic Money Well Spent

Last weekend Kish and I visited Chicago’s Millennium Park for the first time.  I had high expectations because I’ve heard a lot about it, and those high expectations were fully met.

The fountain at Wrigley Square

Millennium Park is a 24.5 acre park located on the site of the former Illinois Central Railroad rail yard and parking lot, in an area between the Loop section of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan.  The park, which took years to build and opened four years behind schedule, was dogged by artistic and aesthetic controversies and cost overruns.

At the time it opened, some predicted that the cost overruns and controversies would soon be forgotten after people got to experience the park and its many spectacular features.  I think those people were right.  Since its opening in 2004, Millennium Park has become one of Chicago’s most visited attractions, as well as the site of concerts, festivals, and many other activities.  When we visited there last weekend it was hopping.

A side view of "The Bean" at the Cloud Gate

The location of the park is inspired.  By putting the park at the site of the old rail yard, Chicago’s leaders and city planners subtracted a downtown eyesore and added a beautiful green space area that provides a great perspective from which to view the rest of the city and the impressive Chicago skyline.

And the features of the park show what can be done when a city and private entities work in partnership.  Millennium Park started as a smaller concept, with a smaller price tag, then grew in scale and cost as private benefactors and contributions were attracted.  Ultimately, the entire project cost $475 million and was funded through civic money and substantial private contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations.  The result is a world-class combination of architecture, gardens, bridges, cool shaded areas, and fun stuff for just about everybody.

One of the "face fountains" at the Crown Fountain

The thing about Millennium Park that was most impressive to me was that it already seems deeply woven into the fabric of life for Chicago residents.  Sure, the architecture of the Pritzker Pavilion is striking, but it wouldn’t mean much if people in the community weren’t using and enjoying the facilities — and it sure looks like Millennium Park is used and enjoyed.  When we were there, we saw a number of wedding parties getting their pictures taken at Millennium Park landmarks.  We saw kids jumping and playing in the Crown Fountain, waiting for its iconic faces to spew out water.  We saw people with strollers walking past “the Bean” and enjoying the gardens.  I’d be confident in guessing that the people of Chicago are very happy that Millennium Park is there.

I’ve always thought that well-planned parks and fountains make a hugely positive contribution to a great city.  Chicago’s Millennium Park certainly supports that theory.