Case Studies

City Creek Fountains

Project Team

City Creek Reserve Inc.

Landscape Architect:

SWA Group

Fountain Designer:

WET Design & CMS Collaborative Inc.

General Contractor:

Jacobsen Construction



City Creek Center, Salt Lake City’s newest mixed-use development, features no humble task – a replica of the area’s historic City Creek running through it, complete with 300 live trout, more than 600 trees and hundreds of native plants. In addition, the 23-acre site features numerous fountain experiences constructed of natural stone to enhance the locale, which highlights Utah’s native landscape. The spectacular fountains create a focal point for several gathering places throughout the outdoor mall.

For the fountains, the client desired the inclusion of fire and water programmed to music for entertaining City Creek Center patrons. As such, WET Design of Sun Valley, Calif., was brought in to design such an experience. WET Design, the firm known for creating the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas, created three fountains titled “Flutter,” Transcend” and “Engage.” Flutter captures attention with dancing fire on sheets of water, spilling out in the shapes of bells in a union of pyrotechnics and nature. Transcend entertains with musically choreographed displays using the elements of fire and water and spewing streams of water upward in playful patterns. Engage invites children to interact with its animations.

In addition, fountain consultants CMS Collaborative Inc. of Santa Cruz, Calif., designed a series of three rectangular fountains in the mall leading to the Central Plaza. The fountains were designed to complement the large, existing water feature at the nearby LDS Conference Center.

To create the fountains, granite provided the ideal choice for its durability, permanence and ability to reflect the area’s natural landscape. Landscape architect, SWA Group San Francisco, CMS Collaborative, and WET Design selected Coldspring for its unique capabilities and enhanced technology. SWA Group provided conceptual design and design development for all of City Creek Center’s outdoor environments. The design team knew Coldspring’s technology capabilities with modeling software and CNC fabrication would be required to produce the stones’ complex geometries with exact precision. Coldspring has completed a number of projects with WET Design in the past, and WET Design felt confident in Coldspring’s ability to produce complex, quality work on time and in budget.

“The beauty of technology is that it allows the production of shapes and designs in stones, such as the ones for City Creek Center, that would have been nearly impossible 50 years ago,” said Ross Nadeau, Principal, SWA Group “Coldspring can produce the shape of stones in nearly anything we can conceptualize.”

Coldspring provided granite for the central oval fountain known as Transcend, the interactive fountain known as Engage, and the three rectangular fountains leading to the Central Plaza. Mesabi Black and Prairie Brown in a combination of Polished, Diamond 100 and Rub and Sanded finishes were selected. Mesabi Black creates a striking backdrop for the water features, and Prairie Brown beautifully complements the natural color scheme found throughout City Creek Center.

Throughout the design phase, Coldspring worked closely with the design team to select the proper stone and to develop the plans necessary for the project’s success. Additionally, Coldspring carefully coordinated with the fountain designers to ensure proper fabrication and to meet project specs.

For a successful outcome, the fountains required extremely tight measurements and exacting precision during fabrication and installation of the stone. Hundreds of critically placed nozzle holes were needed for accurate production of the fountain performances. Coldspring meticulously fabricated a total of 176 perfectly positioned holes for water jets and light fixtures and 49 holes for gas-fueled fire nozzles for the dancing fire and water performance for Transcend. Coldspring’s precise stone fabrication eliminated the need for handwork on site. There was no room for error, and the team delivered with success.

What’s more, the entire length of a massive stone disc creates the platform for Transcend. Coldspring’s CNC technology enabled the disc to be fabricated with the precision required. In the field, stone installer Kepco+ of Salt Lake City painstakingly installed the disc to be level at every point within the thickness of a single piece of paper. This allows for the perfect flow of water to cascade over the entire perimeter evenly and beautifully.

“The top flat surface of the fountain has a 37-foot diameter,” said Catherine Lay, Marketing Manager, Kepco+. “This was an incredible feat to create such a massive plane so perfectly level.”

City Creek Center was recently named the 2012 Best Retail Development in the Americas region by the International Property Awards and placed in the top three in the World’s Best Retail Development category. In 2012 it was named the Building Stone Institute Stone Project of the Year. It has also received the 2013 Coverings, Installation and Design Grand Prize, Commercial and was a finalist for the 2013 ULI Global Award for Excellence.

“Since its opening in the spring of 2012, City Creek Center has become a Salt Lake City landmark, and the fountains are a true highlight of the remarkable project,” said Jeremy Simmonds, Project Manager, Kepco+.

A LEED Gold-certified project, City Creek Center has played a critical role in Salt Lake City’s sustainable design project to revitalize its downtown. The six years of planning, design and construction for City Creek Center have proved well worth the wait.

2013 Pinnacle Award Winner: Commercial Exterior
Photo Credit Martin van Hemert

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