Rethinking The Fountain

For thousands of years, fountains always featured a water basin. Then landscape architect Peter Walker designed Harvard University's Tanner Fountain, and a revolutionary new idea was born.

"Once upon a time-and not so long ago as all that-if you planned on splashing water around in a decorative manner, you were expected to provide a basin in which the water could be collected afterward. In a long, rich history reaching back to the Rome of emperors and aqueducts, fountains had always had basins. The Trevi Fountain, in Rome; the Apollo Fountain, at Versailles; and the Buckingham Fountain, in Chicago-they all have basins.

But basins can leak, becoming maintenance headaches. In the early 1980s, Harvard University was contemplating a new fountain. Derek Bok, then the president, noted that a number of campus fountains had ended up as planters, and he wondered if the designer, Peter Walker, could come up with a solution. Mr. Walker did just that-by getting rid of the basin and simply grading the site so that the water ran toward the drains. It was a solution so obvious, and so good, that you have to wonder why no one had thought of it before. Plenty of people have thought of it since, of course-fountains everywhere now take advantage of Mr. Walker's fountain-design advance.

Now the American Society of Landscape Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation are honoring the Harvard fountain-the Tanner Fountain-with the 2008 Landmark Award."

Full Story: Landscape Award Celebrates a 'Transformational' Fountain at Harvard

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
Women's t-shirt with map of Los Angeles

City T-Shirts for the ladies!

Women's Supersoft CityFabric© Fashion Fit Tees. Now available in six different cities.
$24.00
Woman wearing city map tote bag

City Shoulder Totes - New Cities Added!

Durable CityFabric© shoulder tote bags available from 9 different cities.
$22.00