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Hydro Dramatics Makes A Splash In Forest Park With Government Hill Fountain Renovations

Photo courtesy of Tarlton Corp.

A ‘marvel of technology’ for its time, fountain keeps vintage look but gains energy-efficient, high-tech LED lighting and controls

Hydro Dramatics, a St. Louis-based fountain consulting firm, has completed renovations to the city’s beloved 1930s-era fountain and reflecting pool on Government Hill in Forest Park. The hill, located at the foot of the World’s Fair Pavilion, is one of the most popular settings in the park as a site for civic and corporate special events, including the annual “Balloon Glow.”

When the vintage structure—then known as the “Electric Fountain”--was completed in 1929, it was considered a marvel of technology due to its multi-colored underwater lighting—an unheard of feature for the day. As the fountain aged, however, its once exuberant jets and colors faded and could not be maintained as designed due to deterioration of the original mechanism.

With the renovation, the fountain’s multi-colored water jets replicate the aesthetics of the original while embodying 21st century sensibilities. This was accomplished through computerization and incorporation of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting that projects a rainbow of rich color from under the water.

“It was important to maintain the historical significance of the fountain. The challenge was to design an economical, energy-efficient lighting system to create a memorable experience for visitors while keeping intact the historical nature of the project,” says Kerry Friedman, vice president and general manager, Hydro Dramatics. “By using the latest technology in LED lighting, the fountain’s original ambiance was retained--without the original operating costs and maintenance.”

The $4 million Government Hill project is part of a $100 million master plan and collaboration between Forest Park Forever and the City of St. Louis that calls for major renovations throughout the historic park. Additional renovations to Government Hill included the installation of new stairways, upgraded paths for ADA accessibility, and construction of a natural amphitheater and hillside garden rooms. Team members on the Government Hill project included Hellmuth Obata & Kassabaum Inc., BSI Constructors and Delmar Plumbing.

In addition to the Government Hill project, Hydro Dramatics has refurbished water features and fountains throughout the park, including those in the Emerson Grand Basin at the bottom of Art Hill and the Jewel Box.

Established in 1972, Hydro Dramatics is a division of Missouri Machinery & Engineering Co. Inc. (www.momach.com). This affiliation enhances Hydro Dramatics’ technological and fountain creative expertise and provides its design team with direct access to the fabrication/manufacturing capabilities needed to tackle the most sophisticated fountain projects, including the Gateway Geyser on the riverfront in East St. Louis, the tallest fountain in the United States.

Among recently completed projects are several new fountains and water features at the Missouri Botanical Garden; the Cypress Swamp at the Saint Louis Zoo; the fountain at Doisy Research Center at Saint Louis University; and New Town in St. Charles. In addition to creating fountains regionally and nationally, Hydro Dramatics provides fountain equipment overseas. The firm’s recent international projects include designing and creating fountains in San Juan, Puerto Rico; at Weil University in Doha, Qatar; and at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

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Media contact: Patricia Binder, 636-441-0022, or Debra Finkel, 314-878-1213, Finkel & Binder Communications LLC, agent for Hydro Dramatics


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