Glass:

The fountain recalls previous artworks by Plensa, such as Honey, Milk, Water, Earth from 1999, a roughly 7' cube of glass and stainless steel that's illuminated by neon lights. But where this piece used minimal structure to give the faux, glass brick walls lightness and transparency, Crown Fountain would require a special frame to take the gravity load of the 50' tall walls, while also helping to stabilize each tower laterally from wind forces. A custom stainless steel "T-frame" was developed to hold the glass blocks and transfer the vertical load in a zigzag pattern down to its base. As well, 1/2" diameter rods anchored to the steel structure projected out to this frame for lateral stability, supplemented by triangular corner brackets. Each glass block was custom made by hand at a glass factory outside Pittsburgh. These were fitted into small sections of the frame, shipped to the site on trucks, and lifted into place, approximately seven sections per face. Mark Sexton pointed out that the glass manufacturer was able to make almost perfectly white glass, not the typically green glass that results from the iron content of glass. This clarity helps to display a truer image, but it also runs the risk of showing dirt more easily over time.

Crown Fountain in Chicago, Illinois by Jaume Plensa and Krueck & Sexton

2005.03.07