Crown Fountain

Chicago, 2004
By Jaume Plensa

[My favorite part is at 1:03 when the kids run up to the tower in anticipation of the waterfall, but then run away right before the water comes down.]


The Crown Fountain consists of two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a large plaza that is covered by a thin layer of water.  The layer is thin enough that you can walk through with shoes on, but also deep enough to splash in.  The towers use video technology to project images of a diverse demographic of Chicago citizens (taken from 75 ethnic, social, and religious Chicago organizations).  Jaume Plensa plays on dualistic themes:  The pool and the towers reflect a play on light and water.  The two towers represent two people in conversation.


The fountain is meant to show the faces of Chicago invite public interaction.  The thin line seen in the above image is the drainage for the edge of the fountain.  Because there is no height difference to signal the edge of the fountain plaza, people’s movement is freed.  The public can run around, splash, and wade in and out of the plaza without any hindrance.face

A different face is projected on cycles of 5 minutes.  The faces mainly stay still but also blink.spit

At the end of a 5-minute cycle, the face closes the eyes and puckers up to spout a fountain of water out.  The water spouting through the mouths is a reference to gargoyle sculptures of more traditional fountains.water-falls-01

After the spouting finishes, a wash of water flows over the tower.water-falls-02Although the city planned for some interactivity, the transformation of the fountain into a water park for kids surprised Plensa.structure

The above image shows the glass brick wall that the towers are made of with the connections to the interior stainless steel structural frame.led

  Over a million LED lights are used behind the two walls facing the plaza.


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