Who designs the funky fountains at malls?
April 16, 2021 9:10 PM   Subscribe

Who designs those jazzy fountains/water features at parks, malls, airports, etc?

When I was a kid, I used to always wonder who came up with all those different kinds of fountains. (A favorite remains these little bouncing guys at Water Tower Place in Chicago.) So…who does design those kinds of water features? What is their typical job title and education? How does one get into that field? Even as a hobbyist?
posted by Charity Garfein to Work & Money (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: WET Design is one of the main ones, founded by some ex Disney imagineers I think... the website is just okay but there’s some good articles if you google wet design fountains.

Here’s a list of some of their competitors, with more links

There’s a Disney imagineering show on Netflix that might touch on some of this, and it is absolutely worth tracking down the show Big Brain Theory, where a one year contract at WET is one of the prizes
posted by wowenthusiast at 9:24 PM on April 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: As a landscape architect I know a handful of landscape architects who have found their way into this niche market. (They studied landscape architecture.)
posted by Juniper Toast at 9:53 PM on April 16, 2021

Best answer: Came in to say WET -- because my son works there! He's a software engineer, and they have all manner of engineers there, because nothing in a WET installation is off-the-shelf -- they design and manufacture it all in-house, from water shooters to lights. Fun fact: the whole floor of the lobby is living grass.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 10:25 PM on April 16, 2021 [11 favorites]

Best answer: Landscape architects (my training), sculptors, artists, hydrologists... sometimes all of them.

The Lion's Fountain (article and links in my wife's blog) in LA is by Douglas Olmsted Freeman, a Minneapolis based sculptor.

Some of the most amazing fountains use 'laminar flow jets' to make water objects e.g. 'cubes' of water flying through the air. The jet orifices are very finely machined to avoid early break up and pumps tuned for very precise velocity..

We did a garden show fountain using gas fittings as they are machined to high tols. and lot <>DREISEITLconsulting really lead the way IMO at moment, but there are others. dreiseitl tend to rely on real models rather than simulation as water is so hard to predict, especially to get the right sounds. I've found you can tune water sounds much better using real wet models.

I can't find it but recall an article in (I think) Scientific American from early 00's about a fountain designer using bleeding edge hydraulics to do cool things.
posted by unearthed at 11:35 PM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yep. WET. They do many of the big Vegas fountains too.
posted by answergrape at 8:47 AM on April 18, 2021

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