Regardless of the weather, the glowing water feature at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, N.Y., provides both a meeting place and a discussion piece for RIT student residents and visitors.
Featuring green-patterned glass and lit from within, the fountain is situated in the central courtyard outside RIT’s Global Plaza, a new, 189,000-square-foot, mixed-use project that includes 414 beds in apartment-style housing, 12,000 square feet of academic space, and 20,000 square feet of retail space.
The outdoor area, designed by Sausalito, Calif.–based landscape architecture firm SWA Group, mimics international town squares and provides a place for student gatherings, dining, performances, and recreation. The fountain serves as a landmark for the outdoor living space, according to Lee Fain, vice president of Hobbs Architectural Fountains. The Atlanta-based firm built the RIT fountain to custom specifications using its own proprietary products, including flush-mounted jets and submersible LED lighting. The fountain is powered by a heavy-duty pump from Pentair Water, which provides equipment for commercial pools and water features.
All the fountain elements are integrated with a control panel. This piece of technology directs both simple activities—turning jets on and off, for example—and complex actions, such as choreographed water and light shows set to music.
“The more innovative multifamily owners are thinking about more than pools—they’re asking for fountains,” Fain says. Architectural fountains—water features that are meant for looking and not touching—are routinely added to landscape design to provide visual interest to outdoor areas.
Interactive fountains—water features in which both adults and children can frolic—are less common in multifamily settings but are growing in popularity. “Interactive fountains allow for an aesthetic and interactive feature that doesn’t have to be monitored like swimming pools [do],” Fain notes.
While drowning is not a huge concern with fountains, the biggest safety issue relates to their surfaces. “You have to make sure the surfaces have friction so they don’t get too slick from the water,” Fain says. Surfaces made of concrete, granite, brick, and pavers all are appropriate for both architectural and interactive water features. For example, all of Unilock’s paver systems are textured to provide slip-resistant surfaces.
RIT’s fountain is both architectural and interactive, Fain notes. Its green glass and rectangular shape are visually interesting, and its jets encourage people to play in the water. In addition, the college has positioned outdoor furniture around the fountain to invite people to gather and gab.
Jet Set: The 180 Series Can Jet from Hobbs Architectural Fountains is a flush-mounted unit that contains everything needed for an interactive spray effect. Each can contains one ½-inch-orifice clear-stream jet (which can be turned on and off by the main control panel) as well as LED lighting. Constructed of stainless steel, the jet features a 15-degree adjustable-nozzle, throttling ball valve for precise water performance. For more information, call Hobbs Architectural Fountains at 877-426-4622 or visit www.hobbsfountains.com .
Water Sprite: With a freestanding configurable light, the 418 Prisma Series Submersible Light Fixture offers optimum lighting for most any fountain design. Manufactured by Hobbs Architectural Fountains, the unit features programmable LED lighting technology, along with 18 high-output bulbs capable of producing 16.7 million colors. Red, blue, and green bulbs change intensities to create nearly any color imaginable. For more information, call Hobbs Architectural Fountains at 877-426-4622 or visit www.hobbsfountains.com .
Pumped Up: Ideal for water parks, swimming pools, and water features, the Aurora 340 Series commercial pump from Pentair Water Commercial Pool and Aquatics is quiet and smooth-running. It features a back “pull-out” design that simplifies disassembly and has a power frame that allows it to be coupled, as well as mounted horizontally or vertically. For more information, call Pentair at 800-831-7133 or visit www.pentaircommercial.com .
Stylish Seating: With Trex Outdoor Furniture, courtyards and pool areas can be comfy, practical, and stylish. Constructed of plastic lumber from post-consumer bottle waste such as milk and detergent jugs, the furniture is infinitely recyclable. Available in four collections, the units contain UV-inhibiting pigments that reduce fading and need no painting, staining, or sealing. For more information, call Trex at 877-907-TREX or visit www.trexfurniture.com .
Sure-Footed: The Belpasso and Umbriano textured paver systems from Unilock incorporate new, patented StayClean technology engineered to prevent even chewing gum from sticking to the product’s surface. The pavers have a highly slip-resistant surface, making them ideal for pools, driveways, and walkways. For more information, call Unilock at 800-UNILOCK or visit www.unilock.com .
Great Outdoors: Eldorado Outdoor has introduced a collection of strong yet lightweight building blocks that can be used to form custom barbecue islands, kitchen counters, bars, fireplaces, fire pits, seating, and more. Made of glass-?ber–reinforced concrete, the products quickly assemble into a nearly limitless combination of configurations that can be bolted to foundations. For more information, call Eldorado Stone at 800-925-1491 or visit www.eldoradostone.com .