[Today's post is from David Strom, a five-year CWE resident who is an internationally-known IT security and networking expert. The Strominator writes about computer technology for a number of websites, including the New York Times and has published two books on computers.]
Those St. Louisans looking to find something to remind them of Vegas don't have to venture very far from home, nor gamble their nest egg downtown, especially if they are interested in thrilling water fountain displays. I am talking about our own fountain on Maryland Plaza, which was designed by Wet Design, the Burbank-based team that did many of Sin City's fabulous water displays at the Bellagio and City Center complexes. You can also see several of their fountains around the state, including one inside the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles and an outdoor display at the Branson Landing shopping complex.
Our CWE fountain sits in front of what was Design Within Reach and is now a new home furnishings store called 10Denza. In the basement of the store are the pumpworks and controls that are used to make the magic of the fountain, and we got an exclusive tour by the building's management. (See some photos below of the various machinery involved.)
There are a series of three main water pumps, recirculating tanks, computer control systems and lighting electronics. There is a lot of piping to handle all the various sprayers and decorative features, as you can see below. The city water is augmented by a bromide solution to reduce algae growth, as any pool owner can attest. There are also a variety of filters and strainers to prevent various objects from clogging up the waterworks.
The fountain is composed of a basin with an inner ring of 16 streaming narrow-focused jets complimented by an outer ring of 40 arching streams. The jets can reach 15 feet in the air, close to the top of the Mandarin outdoor lounge directly above. Actually, they can go much higher but have turned down because of safety issues with spraying too many people or cars if were set on their full strength. The sprayers also detect wind conditions and can shut off automatically in high winds.
There are four pre-set "programs" of varying lengths that combine both lighting and fanciful water displays. These are set manually by one of the maintenance workers or by Ted Koplar himself, using the control systems pictured above. As one grandparent told us as we were doing our interviews, the fountain is a big destination for their grandkids during the warmer months.
The fountain was paid for by the Koplar organization and replaced an older and much more staid model that was located in the middle of Maryland Plaza street. The current one is of course part of the sidewalk and much more pedestrian-friendly, indeed, too friendly as there have been incidents with broken glasses and other objects tossed into it. More than $100 of coins are also collected by the fountain, which are donated to charity when the fountain is cleaned. It goes through its annual maintenance cycle during the winter months, where the water features are turned off and a sculpture or tree is placed on top of the base.
To learn more about David Strom read his blog, The Strominator, here.
Heartfelt thanks to David for offering to be the first of what I hope will be more guest bloggers; and for getting us behind the scenes of the Maryland Plaza Fountain. If anyone else would like to fill these pages with neighborhood news, views, or a series of photos, just send me an email and we'll discuss it.
And many thanks to the Koplar organization for letting David crawl all over the "nerve center" of the beautiful fountain that has brought so much pleasure to those of us who live here and to the many people who visit the CWE.