Stumbled Upon: CMC’s Third Fountain

There's no doubt that fountains are one of the quintessential aspects of CMC, but most students are only aware of two fountains: one residing in front of Bauer Center and the new fountain with five pools in a line in front of McKenna Auditorium.

Recently, as I was traipsing through campus, I stumbled upon a third fountain behind Seaman Hall.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed it was teeming with algae and surrounded by remains from its construction. Looking from Eighth Street, there is a row of bushes and trees that obscures the fountain.

When questioning other students as to whether they knew of its existence, I was met with puzzled looks.

So why is there a hidden fountain on campus? And, more importantly, on such a fountain-loving campus, why do very few know of its existence?

Turns out, the third fountain is a “performance mockup of the fountain in North Mall,” explained Frank Perri, CMC’s Director of Construction, who implemented the design of the North Mall fountain via the use of contractors.

“The mockup is essentially a beta test site,” said Max Benavidez, CMC’s Associate Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications. Several aspects of the North Mall fountain, such as the thickness of caps, depths of field, stone pattern, grout joints, concrete finish, height of water spray, and weir trimming, were tested on the mockup.

On stone pattern, the mockup fountain tested two patterns of stone, “one in a sunburst and the other in randomized patterns,” said Perri. Since the incorporation of the two radius stone patterns was not compatible with the current North Mall fountain design, it was decided to use two different sizes of stone in a random pattern for the finished product.

Perri said finish of the concrete was also “checked if it would be safe to walk on barefoot.” Walkways in between the fountain were a special consideration considering the expanded size of its design. On the North Mall fountain, students can now tiptoe across concrete pathways in between five pools, reveling in the California sunshine refracting off the water’s depths.

Two noticeable differences between the mockup and the North Mall fountain are the weir finish and misters.

The weir of the fountain is essentially a surfed channel that allows water to flow to the fountain’s edge without surface tension. The mockup design did not allow water to flow evenly over its edge, so the weir was modified with a rounded return in the final design.

Also, the original mockup fountain did not incorporate the steam misters, but Perri said they were “an interesting and fairly economical element to incorporate into the design” of the finished North Mall fountain.

In terms of future renovations, CMC’s construction team is currently deliberating on changing the tile color on the bottom of the North Mall fountain. The mockup fountain’s tile bottom is not as noticeable, as it is wrought with algae, but the tile color of the North Mall fountain has been a common complaint for its dirty appearance. Evaluation of the color will be conducted between now and the first of the next year, with possible changes made next summer.

If students want to see the mockup fountain themselves, they should hurry to its site, as it will be taken down before Thanksgiving break.

Photos by Grant Yang ‘15.