Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.

Fountains-Congress at Main

By: Tom Davis Category: Sidewalk Art, Sidewalk Fountains

Artist created carved stone fountain and bench. Note mechanical vault hatch in foreground.

There are four fountains on the north end of Main Street in the historic district–two at the Congress and two at the Preston intersections in downtown Houston. The center piece of each is a stone urn created by the master artist and sculptor Brad Goldberg. Brad’s web site presents him as “an artist who sees his work as a fusion between sculpture, the landscape and the built environment”. You will find five fountains in this blog where the centerpiece is his work–the four on Main Street plus the “Bayou” on Preston between Fannin and San Jacinto Streets. All pieces are part of the City of Houston’s Art Collection.

The design of the fountains at the Congress St. intersection (map) is simpler than those at Texas Avenue and Main as the space is smaller and more intimate. Each vessel has a different shape and both are shorter and wider than those at Preston and Main–one block away. These also have radial benches under the trees. Note the shape of the top that does not provide a sleeping surface.DSC_0070.JPG

In the foreground of the first image note the hatch covers to the mechanical vault and wet well below the sidewalk. The vault houses the pumps, chemical feeds, filter, electrical switchs, timers, sump pump and other control elements. There is a vault for each fountain.CIMG6839.JPG

The stone work is supported by concrete foundations and a 4″ slab supports the clay-brick covered sidewalk. The bricks are supported at the tree wells by a galvanized steel framework built to allow easy enlargement of the tree well as the tree matures.

Notice that the well at the base of the urn is not covered and includes up-lights shining up through the water as it drops from the rippled sides of the stone urn. The water is pumped gently up a pipe through the center of the solid stone, bubbles out the top and flows down the ripples to the well.

The open well provides great night-time visuals with the light glimmering as the water falls into the pool. But the pool is also a magnet for trash and the jerks with their cigarette buts. It has to be cleaned daily.

The fountains were 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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