PWP Landscape Architecture

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Tanner Fountain, Harvard University

Location

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Completion Date

1984

Client

Harvard University

Categories

>Civic Landscapes >Gardens >Featured

Located at a pedestrian crossroads near Harvard Yard, this prize-winning fountain, consisting of 159 granite boulders sourced from regional farms, recalls the colonists’ arduous experience of clearing their agricultural fields. Set smooth side up, the boulders create a 60-foot-diameter circle overlapping the asphalt paving, the existing grass, and two trees. Water emitted from 32 nozzles located in the center of the circle is captured and re-circulated through the fountain. For three seasons of the year the nozzles emit a dematerializing mist while in winter steam from the university heating plant creates a fog around the fountain. The fountain elegantly displays the snow that Cambridge unfailingly provides and invites human participation without suggesting any particular activity. As a result, the fountain is heavily used by people of various ages who sit, read, climb, jump, flirt, converse, and meditate.

Consultants

Artist: Joan Brigham; Fountain: Richard Chaix