Water Features and Natural Stone: Considerations for Design and Fabrication

Schermerhorn Symphony Center water fountain

Water Features and Natural Stone: Considerations for Design and Fabrication

Water features hold a powerful place in landscape design. Through movement and sound, water transforms even the busiest urban landscape into a serene escape. A tranquil pool offers a place for reflection, or a dynamic fountain evokes a spirit of play. Whether moving or still, dynamic or peaceful, water tells a compelling story in a language familiar to all cultures and generations.

The Banks - Smale Riverfront ParkSet on a backdrop of natural stone, water finds an ideal complement to enrich the design’s narrative. Natural stone’s permanence and durability, allows a water feature to take a variety of creative directions. What’s more, water’s application on a canvas of natural stone draws out new colors, light and shading that only appear when the stone is wet. At Coldspring, we’re often asked for guidance in determining which stones perform the best with water. We help clients recognize how to select the proper stone for water applications by understanding physical characteristics such as porosity and
absorption rate.

We also guide design teams through other important considerations such as the wide variety of fabrication techniques available. Today’s precision fabrication capabilities allow designers to extend the limits of creativity while reducing the need for re-work at the jobsite. What’s more, design teams can achieve a number of different appearances by incorporating different finishes into the water feature.

By working closely with your stone supplier to understand the elements of fabrication and stone selection, you’ll ensure a beautiful outcome with a stone-water design. In the following case study, you’ll see how we combined precision fabrication techniques and finishes to create a striking entrance at a well-known attraction in south Florida.

Kennedy Space Center
Scott Smith Photographic

Water and Stone Greet Space Center Guests

First impressions are important, and the water feature entrance to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral, Fla., creates a lasting memory. As part of a 10-year plan to update and modernize the Visitor Complex, the $16-million entry project includes a grand plaza and fountain area, providing a spectacular interactive experience for its guests.

Water Features and Natural Stone“The 5,000-gallon fountain is lit in the evenings with LED lights programmed in sequence with 26 water jets,” said Robert Vasquez, CAD designer, Freeport Fountains, a construction/engineering firm providing mechanical-electrical and structural designs for the project. “An audio of an actual NASA lift-off recording plays while the jets pulse to the blastoff sequence.” The fountain’s backdrop is a 75-foot-long radial-shaped trapezoid of granite standing 30 feet tall at its highest point. Granite’s durability and permanence provide the ideal material for the outdoor plaza. Coldspring provided 875 square feet of Blue Pearl granite for the fountain.

“Coldspring was chosen for its ability to fabricate the radial facing, provide the desired laser etchings and meet the tight deadline,” said Vasquez. “Having the Blue Pearl granite in block form on its premises was a key factor enabling Coldspring to meet the production schedule.”

Coldspring’s Blue Pearl granite coordinates with NASA’s signature blue, and the polished finish provides an ideal surface for the laser etchings. The etchings include a portrait of President John F. Kennedy, for whom the center is named, and a quote from his 1962 “moon speech” at Rice University.

Final Thoughts

During the fabrication stage, Coldspring brought value to the project in terms of schedule, shop drawings, an excellent fabrication record and its technological capabilities. Coldspring provided constant communication with the design team about what the project needed for an on-time completion.

memorial at nightThe Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s entry now greets its 1.5-million guests annually with an unforgettable experience. The fountain is a highlight of the Visitor Complex’s efforts to remain competitive with nearby theme parks in Orlando.

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