Thursday, May 27, 2010

Millennium Park Chicago: The Fountain

I'm going to do this park in two or three parts.  I'm still processing the idea of this in-your-face downtown park that says "Don't sell Chicago short.  We play with the big boys!"

This post is about the spectacular and outrageous fountain which combines water with an electronic entertainment center. 

 There are two blocks 'facing' each other (literally), dripping with water.  The picture above is from the side of one looking across to the other.  The Millennium Park website says (in part):

Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and inspired by the people of Chicago, The Crown Fountain is a major addition to the city's world-renowned public art collection.

The fountain consists of two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers project video images from a broad social spectrum of Chicago citizens, a reference to the traditional use of gargoyles in fountains, where faces of mythological beings were sculpted with open mouths to allow water, a symbol of life, to flow out. Plensa adapted this practice by having faces of Chicago citizens projected on LED screens and having water flow through a water outlet in the screen to give the illusion of water spouting from their mouths. The collection of faces, Plensa's tribute to Chicagoans, was taken from a cross-section of 1,000 residents.

Here's the other side.  They spit at the same time. 

In between, everyone is enjoying the cool of the water.  Where the ground was dry it was burning hot in the 90F weather. 

And the faces kept changing.

Wikipedia has extensive coverage of the park and the fountain.  It's called the Crown Fountain and here's the intro to Wikipedia's bio of Mr. Crown:

Lester Crown (born 1926) is the son of Chicago financier Henry Crown (died 1990), who created Material Service with two brothers in 1919, which merged with General Dynamics in 1959. He has been a perennial member of the Forbes 400 list since 1982. Lester controls family holdings, including large stakes in Maytag, Hilton Hotels, Alltell, Aspen Skiing Company, New York's Rockefeller Center, and pro basketball's Chicago Bulls. He also holds a stake in the New York Yankees, being a Partner since 1973. Presumably, the large stake held in Bank One at the time of the 2003 Forbes 400 listing has converted to JPMorgan Chase stock and was derived from an interest in First Chicago, which was enumerated in the 1998 Forbes 400 list as First Chicago NBD shares. Recent achievements include brokering a controversial agreement to expand O'Hare International Airport, and spearheading the funding of the new Cook County Hospital (Stroger Hospital). He is a major benefactor of Jewish charities, universities and the Aspen Institute. He is the chairman of the Commercial Club of Chicago and Chicago Council on Global Affairs. His current hometown is Wilmette, IL.

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