Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.

The Bayou Fountain

By: Tom Davis Category: Sidewalk Art, Sidewalk Fountains, Special Surfaces

This fountain symbolizes the meandering bayous of the Houston area with their rising and falling water levels. The water from the adjacent pump/water treatment vault streams up a hole in the center of the large center stone. From the center channels are carved in winding paths and the water flows to the edge where the water runs down the rough side of the stone, through a grate and into the collection trench around the perimeter of the large stone. The water in the trench flows by gravity to the wet well that is part of the pump/water treatment vault.Bayou fountain with streams

The stone covered sidewalk around the center stone extend out around stone benches. The sidewalk stone has shallow wandering “bayous” continuing out from the center stone. The “bayou’s” bottoms are stained black. The fountain is circled by Mexican Sycamore trees found along the bayous in Houston.

The large red granite center stone, coordinated stone pavers and benches were designed, built and installed by Brad Goldberg, an award winning artist who enjoys working with stone. This fountain is on Preston between Fannin and San Jacinto Streets. Be sure to read the posts here about his four vessels on Main Street.

The center stone, the benches and the stone pavers with the bayou tributaries are part of the City of Houston’s Art Collection.

Lessons Learned:

1. The metal grate over the collection trench at the base of the stone must be a metal or some other material that has no value in the salvage metal market. The initial brass grates look fantasitic as the architect desired but they were soon stolen.

2.  The grates at this fountain like at others were installed to provide an level walking surface up to the stone. The designers knew they would also prevent leaves and trash from being caught in the trench. Preventing leaves and trash from being caught in the trench is significant in minimizing the cost of maintenance. The water does catch some leaves and trash at the base on the stone but collection is far easier than if it was down in the trench where it often would block the water return.

3. Small tree wells were provided through the stone and concrete subslab of the sidewalk for the Mexican Sycamores. The trees with their irrigation grew well, five years went by quickly and the tree wells needed costly enlargement. We could have built in a system to enlarge the well more easily as was done in other locations where the wells were initially very small. One of those tree well locations can be seen in the photo at the post about the Main at Congress fountain.

Unrelated to the fountain but a great side story is the brightly colored taco stand perched between the fountain and the parking lot. The owner opens daily and serves great breakfast and lunch tacos and other tex-mex fare through a small window to the long line of patrons. The tiny space is always staffed by the owners, a Vietnamese mother and daughter, and two cooks. They served great food with a big smile throughout our construction of the fountain and now look after the fountain and area.

The fountain was built as part of the Cotswold Program by the Houston Downtown Management District and the City of Houston. Maintenance of the fountains is provided by the City of Houston’s Convention and Entertainment Department.


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