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drinsema-sybenga

Downtown planning - LA style

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The Crown Fountain in Chicago is nice too.

That fountain is one of the coolest urban plazas in the Midwest. I was in Chicago for Taste of Chicago last year and at night it is gorgeous. At 9:00pm there were still throngs of kids playing in it.

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Man, we need to get one of those fountains! How cool. Do the faces in the fountain change or is it painted on?

Joe

They change. It's like a giant LED board I think.

It's really cool when water shoots out of the people's mouths :P

plensa_a_sept_05.jpg

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If any of you are fearing the architecture world is going in the direction of Gehry, don't worry too much. As mentioned, there is a struggle with the building within its context and doesn't achieve a whole lot other than make you go "Wow that's a crazy building." What it does do is exhibit the possibilities of technology and building practice. It also acts as an art form whether people like it or not. But I, and many others believe architecture is meant to solve problems, and be cohesive with its surroundings. I guess this project in LA attempts to do that. But if you think that our future at least within the next 100 years will be filled with crazed out buildings like this, I might ask you to think differently. We are going to be hung up on boxy buildings for some time now. You can't beat the efficency and cost of a room with 90 degree angles, or simple polygonal shapes. The challenge for architects is to make these spaces interesting and have buildings fit within their urban environment. But every once and awhile, it's great to have an "exploding soda can" buildings. But its best that we keep these to a minimum so that they remain unique.

Unfortunately for Gehry, he has worked himself into a corner. His superstar architecture has replicated itself far too many times now. We know what to expect from him, and his buildings don't always seem all that fascinating anymore.

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Crown Fountain was designed by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa. The two 50-foot tall glass block towers stand over a reflecting pool of 1/8 inch of water, with lights and water cascading from the top of each tower.

The towers are activated with LED screens with random faces of 1000 everyday Chicagoans. A repeating "program" runs 15 minutes, each face is present on screen for 13 minutes, with other images from nature as "bookends."

Plensa is a wonderfully brilliant artist. If Grand Rapids ever had a chance to work with him, it would be a dream. Maybe a colossal fountain-type piece in the river, between the new JW and the Public Museum.

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