Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.

The Wall Fountain

By: Tom Davis Category: Sidewalk Art, Sidewalk Fountains

The fountain I call the wall fountain is at the intersection of Smith and Preston Streets. It is a two-sided, stainless steel wall mounted on a stone covered concrete wall. The water is pumped into the space between the steel walls and flows quietly over both sides of the open top and down the outside of the steel.CIMG7469.JPG

The steel walls are supported by a structural steel frame. As you can see in the photo they have stainless steel “buttons” evenly spaced¬† to provide for minimal motion of the water while simulating the sound of water flowing around rocks in a stream.

Once the water reaches the bottom of the wall it runs down the slope in a narrow trough to the swirling pool that funnels it to the return pipe to the underground pump vault.

Lesson LearnedInvolve maintenance staff in design. The stainless steel walls and buttons were not the original design. That design called for glass walls with an air pump pushing bubbles into the base to race to the top and create the visual sensation of the motion of the water. That was an appealing concept but before fabrication the coming years of maintenance was re-considered.¬† The effort and expense to clean the inside of the glass wall from the 4-inch wide slot at the top of the wall (where the water flows out) and reach the algae that would surely grow inside at the lowest point–eight feet below the slot–would obviously have been a difficult if possible task.Wall Fountain-water flows from top and down both sides.

Some said we could “burn” out anything inside the glass with chemicals. But such chemicals are usually caustic and would greatly shorted the life of the pumps and piping. Besides there was no feed systems in the vault for those chemicals so that would have been an additional initial capital cost and additional long-term maintenance cost. So, we changed the design to what is described above that can be kept clean without harsh chemicals, scaffolding and hours to try to rub out the stains and other discolorations.

I was also glad the glass was not used when a car jumped the curb and hit one corner of the supporting stone wall. The glass would have been found in large jagged pieces.

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 Facilities Department.


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