Thursday, July 16, 2009

Water Fountain Sound

The Fountaineer has been resting, visiting and doing some local sight-seeing with an out of town visitor. One of the local stops was a store selling various items, including indoor water fountains. Now, being the Fountaineer, I decided to check them out. This is not unusual for me, but I was unprepared for what I noticed on this occasion.

Sound. I have previously addressed this issue within the general context of its masking benefits and that is how I generally relate to fountain sounds. I also have an awareness of sound as it is influenced by the environment in which it occurs. However, even with this awareness and knowledge, I was stopped in my tracks at the quality of sound I heard from one of the smaller fountains – a deep resonance that seemed amplified by the configuration of the reservoir.

The shape of the reservoir, a pot-like container, performed wonderful aural magic that really caught me off guard. Keep in mind that there were several other identical fountains of the same and larger sizes that were all producing their sounds at the same time, so the manner in which this particular unit stood out deserved some additional attention.

When I gave a closer look, I found that the amount of water in that unit’s reservoir was very different from the others. There was less of it! That difference seemed to have created a larger area within the container in which the sound was shaped.

Such a simple, but noticeable, difference! Upon returning home, I began to play with my fountains. I manipulated their flow rates and reservoir levels and by doing so, rediscovered my fountains’ aural capabilities from an aesthetic perspective.

So, I encourage all fountain owners to do the same from time to time and explore every aspect of their fountain's full range of sounds. Like the Fountaineer, you may be surprised and pleased by the outcome.

Hey! I've noticed that more followers have joined the site. Welcome to y'all. I encourage comments, questions and suggestions and would enjoy hearing from you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fountain destination - Versailles +

Hello. Thank you for joining the Fountaineer for today's trip to Versailles. And, surprise!, after Versailles we will be taking a bonus side trip to another Fountain Destination, Hellbrunn Palace, in Austria before ending our June Travels.

I hope you've remembered to include your portable water fountain because at the end of the journey today you'll probably need the relaxing abmbience of flowing water to help you relax and unwind.

Versailles. The playground of French Royalty and guests in the 15th & 16th centuries. (Photo L- Túrelio, R - Nicolas 555) Originally the area was relatively dry and water had to be brought into the grounds to supply the water fountains and the water-powered robotics. This was accomplished via importing water via construction of miles of canals and networks of pipes over several decades at the cost of over a million human lives and a sizeable chunk of the Royal coffers.

The end result was that at its peak, the Versailles water features were powered by more water each day than was consumed by the entire city of Paris during the same 24 hour period! (Photos T - Simdaperce, B - Remi Jouan) Very little of the original variety of water features remain but the survivors are still-impressive, fully-functioning works of art.

(Photos: L - Gunther Hissler. R - Urban) The Versailles robotics-human figures, etc, powered by hydraulics were marvelous examples of the Europeans' sense of playfulness regarding water features. Unfortunately, very few examples of this technology has survived over the centuries. The wonderful exception is Hellbrunn Palace.

After its construction in the late 15th century, with its water features widely known at that time, guests were delighted, surprised, and frequently dampened by Hellbrunn's famous trick fountains. A foundation was set up to maintain the features in their original condition and this effort & tradition continues today. I have included a video presentation for Hellbrunn because still piictures simply cannot do it justice. Enjoy:

Well, now it's time for a good and hearty meal, Austrian-style, and then some unwinding time with the battery-operated water fountain in the hotel room.

When you return home, turn on your indoor water fountain and think about all its cousins you've had an opportunity to see during our travels. Your home water fountain with all its wonderful benefits is the product of the application of today's technology to the centuries of technological and design ideas from around the world. Remember to ppreciate its rich history and enjoy your multi-tasking object d'art.

July will be more laid-back time when I'll be offering some musings, thoughts and reflections on the water fountain. I hope you'll join me, then.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fountain Destination - London

Thank you for joining the Fountaineer in London, England. I hope you remembered to turn off your indoor water fountains and that you packed your battery-operated water fountain for use tonight. There are many water fountains in London. We will only have time to visit a few of them today; let’s start with contemporary samples.

Here we are in Hyde Park, where we find the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain ( Photograph taken by Colin Gregory Palmer). Established in 2004, it is set out in the form of a large, oval stream bed measuring about 165 by 260 feet, that surrounds and is surrounded by a lush lawn.

The Cornish granite streambed contains a shallow flow and is laid out in a naturally sloping portion of the park. The flow starts at the top of the oval and cascades down either side. One side of the stream bed smoothly descends in gentle ripples, and the other side descends in a variety of steps, rills, and curves so that the water cascades and swirls into the tranquil pool at the bottom. The two sides symbolize the two sides of Diana's life-- her happy times and the turmoil. The Memorial also symbolizes Diana's quality of openness. There are three bridges where you can cross the water and go right to the heart of the fountain.

Appearing Rooms is a spectacular water sculpture by Danish artist Jeppe Hein (photo by Cjc13). It is located outside the Royal Festival, South Bank Center Complex (which includes Shakespeare’s Globe Theater) and creates walls of water in random patterns, allowing a walk-through as new rooms are formed. It’s great for hot days, so I know you’ve dressed to get wet as you interact with the fountain.

The sculpture/fountain 'Revolving Torsion' by Naum Gabo at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital is located at the center of a garden area above the parking lot (photo by daisybush). Across the Thames from the Parliament Building, it has been a stopping point for tourists as well as for patients and their families. The artist, Naum Gabo, a Russian born sculptor who relocated to England prior to WW2 , was a pioneer of kinetic art, and this is a fine example of his work.

There has been some confusion lately about the Hospital's handling of this artwork and I'm not sure it is operating currently. If you're in the area, stop by, but I suggest you make some inquiries first.

Trafalgar Square: the square itself is surrounded by roads on all sides, but traffic is restricted in the interest of pedestrian safety. The original Trafalgar Square Fountain, first added in 1845, was remodeled in 1939 by Sir Edwin Lutyens. The Trafalgar Square Fountain (Photo, left, by William McMillan; night photo by Diliff ) features mermen and mermaids alongside dolphins, all sculpted in bronze. Trafalgar Square Fountain is actually a set of two fountains for your enjoyment.

Whether you choose to take a dip in the famous fountain or enjoy Trafalgar Square in a drier way, it is worth this stop. Oh yes, I hope you remembered to bring something along to feed the pigeons.

Installed in 1953, the Venus Fountain (photo by Fin Fahey) in Sloane Square, depicts Venus in a traditional classical pose and is the work of highly regarded Twentieth Century sculptor Gilbert Ledward, a local artist.

Well, how'd you like the London fountains? In addition to its fine fountains, it is an international city brimming with ethnic restaurants serving up delicious meals. So, before you retire for the night, I urge you to choose your favorite variety and enjoy a taste treat.

When you get back to your room, your portable water fountain will provide the proper ambience for unwinding from the day's activities. When you return home, I hope you'll have a deeper respect for the history associated with your own indoor water fountain.

The next fountain destination - Versailles.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Water Fountain Destination - Rome, Italy

Are you ready for some fountains?

Is your suitcase packed? Did you remember to pack in your portable battery-operated water fountain? You’ll likely need it for this trip. Is your home indoor water fountain turned off ?

OK, so let’s go!

Here we are in Rome, the Water Fountain Capital of the World.
There are literally hundreds of water fountains including the small “nasoni” (named for the ‘Roman Nose’ shape of the spouts) dispensing drinking water for public use and the elaborately decorative, large structures designed by famous sculpture artists.

Today we’ll focus on the water fountain creations of one sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. His stone pieces were created between 1629 and 1653, but his most famous fountain, Trevi, was actually not completed until 1751, about 70 years after his death, having been commissioned to an artist of that time, Nicola Salvi.

The earliest (1629) is the Baraccia (photo by Radomil) located at the bottom of the Trinit dei Monte steps in Piazza di Spagna. Although Gian Lorenzo has been credited for this fountain, it was actually designed by his father, Pietro, and Gian Lorenzo was a collaborator. Commissioned by Pope Urbano Barberini, it depicts a sinking ship in memory of the people who lost their lives during a late 16th century flood.

Next are the Fontana del Tritone (The Triton Fountain), 1643, and the Fontana delle Api (Bee Fountain), bees refer to the coat of arms of the Pope's family - The House of Bernini, are both located in Piazza Barberini and built around the same time. This Triton a powerful symbol of the Pope's power has remained intact over the centuries. Api has fared less well and was dismantled for over 35 years before a reconstruction in 1917. Some parts of the original structure remains, but historians disagree as to exactly what is or is not authentic in the current version. Note: On The Triton, look for the bees on the pedestal which demonstrates the relationship to the Pope.

Bernini’s most famous personal work, at left, is the Quattro Fiumi (Four Rivers), 1651, located in the center of Piazza Navona.

Considered to be the most beautiful fountain in the city, it is built of marble and travertine stone and symbolizes four rivers from the four parts of the known world at that time. Europe is represented by the Danube; Africa by the Nile; Asia by the Ganges and the Americas by Rio. It is topped off by the Domitian obelisk which causes the structure to tower over the piazza. At the south end of the square is another Bernini designed fountain, but built by Antonio Mari in 1653, the Fontana del Moro (Moor’s Fountain),above right, depicting an African-featured triton battling a dolphin.

Last, but definitely not least, is Fontana Trevi (1751), located in Piazza Trevi. This is the fountain that garnered world-wide fame via two films, “La Dolce Vita” and “Three Coins in a Fountain” and consists of an extravagant array of columns, tritons, horses and Neptune. The legend of this fountain states that after throwing a coin over your shoulder into the waters, a return trip to Rome is guaranteed.

So, there we have a small sampling of Rome’s fountains for your enjoyment. When you look at indoor water fountains to place in your home you’ll often notice the influence of these sculptures on contemporary design. You’ve done a bit of walking today, so experience an expansive, multi-course meal in a local tratoria and then enjoy the benefits of your personal battery-powered water fountain in your room for a relaxing end to a wonderful day. And, never forget that your indoor water fountain at home is a multi-functioning cousin to those you've seen today, and is a work of art in its own right.

The next Fountain Destination - London, England

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Water Fountain Destinations Across the US

As promised, I'll be taking a journey across the US to highlight various Water Fountain Destinations in this post. The categories in which I'd place these fountains are: the unique, the spectacular, the mood-setters and the easily accessible (found in much-frequented tourist spots).

Each of these water fountains are worth a stop. If close to home, pack a picnic basket and check out the fountain. If any are close to where you're travelling to or thru, plan a brief rest stop. You won't be disappointed.

The first Stop: The Unique. Most all college and university campuses include a water fountain. UCLA's offering, The Inverted Fountain, built in 1968 by Jere Hazlett was inspired by the hot springs and the mudpots in Yellowstone National Park's Morning Glory Pool. (Photo by brent for the Wikimedia Commons)

Next stop: The Spectacular. The Fountain in Fountain Hills, AZ, about 40 min or so east of the I-17/I-10 junction in the Phoenix area. This water fountain, in service since 1970, has a 15 minute display that erupts every hour, as long as the wind is less than 10mph. In ideal (0 mph) wind conditions and when all three pumps are in action, the fountain reaches a height of about 560 feet! It held the Giuness record as the World's Tallest Fountain for a couple decades and now is #2 or #3.

I am a real sucker for the tiered or stair-step water fountain design and San Antonio's Hemisfair Park has a marvelous example. A great walking or jogging park located in the downtown area, the Fountain is situated in the park's plaza. A fine place for a picnic, and the sound is wonderful.

For mood, you cannot beat the seclusion of Houston's Wortham Park Fountain located in the Medical Center. You'd never expect a quiet spot like this to exist within an most urban setting. This is a worthwhile stop, especially if you're in the middle or at the end of a hectic day.

The next stop is in Washington, DC.
Another stair-step is located (left) in Meridian Hill/ Malcom X Park (Photo by Ben Schumin). Pack a snack and preapre to settle back and enjoy the water flow. Also in DC, (right) within the FDR Memorial, is a water fountain setting that combines the tranquil with the impressive. Actually DC has several water fountains worth a look, and I'll porobably devote a post to them in the future.

The last stop features Disney fountains and these are located in Disney World and in Epcot Center in Florida (photos by Benjamin D. Esham for the Wikimedia Commons). The Disney parks have been seen by millions of tourists and, in terms of water features, these examples are typical of Disney facilities, world-wide. So while at the Disney parks and hotels, check out the various water features and enjoy the imaginative designs and settings.

Each of today's water fountain examples are worth our appreciation as creations having their lineage traced back thousands of years. Your water fountain at home is no different, except for its size. So, I hope you will appreciate the ancestry, ancient to contemporary, of your personal multi-tasking water fountain at home.

My next post will focus on the Water Fountain Capital of the World - Rome, Italy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Water Fountain Destination - Las Vegas

Turn off your indoor & outdoor fountains, make room in your suitcase for your portable battery operated water fountain and move out smartly for today's Water Fountain Destination - Las Vegas.

This City in the desert is home to many fountains and water features, most found along the famous Strip with all it's themed hotels.

One would expect water features at The Venetian with it's canals... the Mirage with its name giving a hint of water

...and at the Roman themed Caeser's Palace (photo: Arnold C), and you would not be disppointed.

Amidst all the bustle and glitz of The Strip, water features are difficult to avoid - they can be found both noutside and inside the venues and my be obvious or tucked away in some nook or cranny. As such, I urge all visitors to explore the delight of water fountain discovery as you walk with your camera through as many of the awesomely appointed hotels as your legs can manage.

I mention legs becausethe high tourist season, you will be able to travel faster on foot than by car or cab and (sometimes expensive) parking concerns won't be an issue.

What I want to emphasize to all water fountain enthusiasts is to save some energy so that you have enough left in your tank to get yourself over to the Bellagio.

This monument to tasteful excess is home to a free outdoor water show considered, one of the top 5 or 10 water features in the world - The Fountains of Bellagio. The shows last less than 15 minutes and are featured every afternoon from 3PM on weekdays and Noon on weekends thru midnight, starting every 30 min until 8 PM and every 15 minutes after that.

Still photos simply cannot do it justice, so I've included a video here, and even the video can only do it a bit more justice.

( video by RaidersS5)
[hit refresh/F5 key if the video doesnt load]

It must be seen in person and I recommend the late evening or at night when the fountain lighting is most visible. The choreography of the presentation that dramaticlly combines light, music and computer controlled water sprays is a must-see. 'Nuf said.

Bring your appetite to Las Vegas, too. Each hotel features many choices from quick snacks to massive buffets to fine dining, and there are many other restaurants for all tastes and budgets on (or close to) the Strip and also in the Downtown area.

Your portable fountain, though a pale comparason to the Bellagio display, will still help you to relax and let go of the day's activities in the quiet of your hotel room. And remember, your fountain at home is a cousin of that awesome water display and wonderful in its own right.

My next Water Fountain Destination(s) will be a compilation of interesting fountains around the US.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Water Fountain Destination - Portland, OR

It's time to pack your battery-operated fountain into your carry-on and shut down your stationary indoor and outdoor fountains in preparation for a trip to Portland, OR.

Today's Water Fountain Destination is truly fountain-rich. I don't often get into the local history, but this city is an exception. Founded in the mid-1800s by Asa Lovejoy and Francis W. Pettygrove (who bought William Overton's original 50% share) it was named Portland, as opposed to Boston, on the results of 2 out of three coin flips of the since-famous 'Portland Penny'. Pettygrove's hometown (Portland, Maine) and name choice thusly won out over that of Lovejoy's hometown.

During the city's growth spurt in the late 1800s, characters the likes of Joseph "Bunco" Kelly, a hotel owner who was a prominent shanghier of local drunks who he turned over to docked ships' Captains to replenish their crews (for a generous "per head" fee).

Another, "Sweet Mary," the proprietor of a brothel, who, to avoid paying taxes and adhere to other city laws, operated her bordello on a barge that ran up and down the Willamette River where she was, technically, outside of Portland's jurisdiction.

As the city stabilized, it cleaned itself up - especially the waterfront area. Simon Benson was a leader in this effort as a lumber baron, philanthropist and a teetotaller.

One day as he was walking the floor in his mill, he noted the smell of alcohol on his workers' breath. When he questioned the men as to why they drank during the day, they informed him that there was no fresh drinking water to be found downtown.

As a result, Benson commissioned 20 elegant freshwater drinking fountains, which are still in use today and have become known as the "Benson Bubblers".

It is said that beer consumption in the city went down by 25 percent after the fountains' installation in 1912. These (drinking) fountains, are the first or their kind I've mentioned so far in my posts, but they seem worthy as an important part of Portland's water fountain ambience and history.

And now, onto the larger display fountain structures...
Most of Portland's municipal fountains operate spring through fall from 6:30 am to 8 pm. Many fountains are people friendly/interactive and so I include these 'Rules to Remember':

Look, But Don't Drink: (The water is chlorinated to a level comparable with swimming pools).
Be Careful: People enjoy splashing around in the interactive fountains, (Jamison Square, McCoy, Holladay Park, Salmon Street Springs), and as such, there are potential dangers for unattended children and inattentive adults who may be oblivioius to slippery surfaces and rapidly moving water.

McCoy Fountain - Corner of N. Trenton Street and N. Newman Avenue. Recirculating nearly 8,000 gallons of water, it's water spouts from 35 jets at random intervals at heights of up to 6 feet.

There are seating ledges around this 710 sqare foot oval shaped fountain. Have a seat and find out why locals call it a "guessing" fountain". Who knows which of the 35 spouts will erupt next!

Holladay Park Fountain - Holladay Park at NE 11th and Multnomah. A spouting fountain with programmable nozzles and valves situated on several plumbing loops gerenate a scene of unexpected trajectories and sequences.

The oldest piece of public art in the city, Skidmore Fountain between SW Burnside and Ankeny, 1st and Front, marked the center of Portland when this bronze fountain went into operation in 1888. For nearly two decades, people drank from tin cups that hung from the lions' heads at the base of the fountain. This fountain is a gathering spot for visitors to the popular Saturday Marketthat features local artist' works and artisans' creations. A great people-watching event, too.

Salmon Street Springs at SW Salmon in Waterfront Park. This fountain is a celebration of city life. Computer regulated, the changing 185 jets generate patterns of water that are delightful to watch.

Lovejoy Fountain, named after the Portland Co-Founder is located in downtown Portland and celebrates the waterfalls and landscapes of the Northwest.

Chimney Fountain - North of SW Lincoln between 3rd and 4th. This small red-brick fountain offers the illusion of its waters flowing from between the "chimney" bricks.

Jamison Square Fountain between NW Kearney and Johnson and 10th and 11th Avenues - The fountain is a focal point of the Square. Water cascades from stone joints into low pools that simulate tidal pools.

Last, but most definately not least, the Ira Keller fountain, SW 3rd and Clay - is named after a man who promoted and instilled local civic pride. If you're only in town for only a day or evening with limited free time, this is the fountain to see.

The structure is one of the biggest waterworks in the city, covers a full city block and includes waterfalls and pools with greenery placed throughout. Its terraces and platforms are meant to suggest the Northwest's abundant waterfalls.

The sound of water flowing through the different waterfalls is loud enough to cancel out all city sounds, and the sight of the multi-levels of flowing water create a most un-urban atmosphere within Portland's business district.

The Keller is set up in a series of small fountains that you can actually sit in (like a hot tub) set over a sort of wading pool partially covered in concrete, so one may get seriously wet or just walk around taking in the sights, remaining perfectly dry or anything in-between. There are many signs placed around the structure reminding all to exercise caution in and around the water.

Don't forget to make some time to sample Portland's restaurants. The Northwest, Asian, and seafood selections are marvelous. And Portland's amazing Microbrewerys! They are not to be missed if you don't follow Simon Benson's rule.

Eat, drink and see Portland's fountains! And at night, in your room, start up your own portable fountain and let the sound remind you of the day's sights while helping you relax for a tranquil night of sleep. While relaxing, remember your home fountain awaits to offer you all its soothing and revitalizing benefits within the familiarity of your own environment.

The next Fountain destination - Las Vegas

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Today's Fountain Destination - San Francisco

Here we go! Turn off your home water fountain, pack your small, portable battery operated water fountain into your suitcase and hit the road for....

San Francisco! A wonderfully accessible city that may be walked from end to end, if you're in good aerobic/ physical shape Or, you may be conveniently moved about via public transportation (be sure to secure a Metro map). Several water fountains and Falls are scattered throughout the area and are listed in no particular order.

Check out the Relief Map Fountain, designed by Ruth Asawa and located between Grand Hyatt and Union Square. A map of the city in stylized relief form forms the base of this water feature. Can you find your location at the fountain on the map?

Lotta Crabtree was imensly popular as San Francisco's diva, and never forgot the city that paid for her trademark cigars. She was wealthy enough at the tender age of 28 to commission an ornate, cast-metal pillar (triple her small size) with a spigot fountain as a present to the people of San Francisco in 1875. It is located at the intersection of Geary and Kearny .

A popular and useful meeting point during and following the 1906 earthquake and fire, it was the only source of water downtown. Annually, a commemoration is held there at the time the quake struck: 5:12 a.m. on April 18.

There is the "Vaillancourt Fountain" downtown at Justin Herman Plaza and Four Embarcadero Center, between the Ferry Building and the foot of Market Street. The fountain was created by Quebec-born sculptor Armand Vaillancourt. When the artist inscribed it with graffiti "Québec libre!" on the eve of its unveiling in 1971 it has since acquired that nickname.

POPOS - Privately-Owned-Public-Open-Spaces -- small tucked away spots are quite popular with both locals and visitors. In one of them, you'll find the Kinetic Fountain in the lobby of 343 Sansome Street (Photo © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons). This intricate fountain by Belgian sculptor Pol Bury features floating metal balls.

While you're there, take the elevator up to the 15 th floor where you'll find a public roof garden with a view that features tables and chairs, benches, olive trees and ledge seating along granite planters. You'll aslo conveniently find a reataurant there.

In the financial district downtown, next to the iconic pyramid known as the Transamerica Building, don't miss the Transamerica Redwood Park. There are two delightfully-themed fountains, one called the Frogs and the other the Puddle Jumpers that depicts children, holding hands poised in mid-air, ready to jump into the water - both tucked away among a stand of Redwood trees.

The fountain located in the One Bush Plaza is both dramatic and contemplative. (Photo © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons)

There are also a couple water features that a video best serves:

Look fo the waterfall near the 525 Market Street building (next to Chipotle) in the Financial District.

There is also waterfall-type fountain in Levi's Plaza.

Finally, there is a very dramatic water feature in Yerba Buena Gardens - The Martin Luther King Memorial fountain and waterfall. It is the second largest Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in the US next to the King Center in Atlanta, GA and is special in may ways, but one way in particular as relates to fountains -

- you can walk behind the water!

I hope you will enjoy these and the other fountains in the city. After a day of sight-seeing and delicious meals at any of the awesome ethnic, Italian, Russian or Asian or the many fresh-right-off-the-boat seafood restaurants, I'm sure that you;ll be glad that you brought along your stress-relieving battery-operated fountain as you unwind in your roon at night.

When you return home to your fountain, remember it is your own display of kinetic art and appreciate it for the remarkable synthesis of technology and spontaneous creativity it truly is.

My next Fountain Destination - Portland, OR