Forest Park’s Jewel Box Features A Gem Of A Fountain
With its cantilevered glass walls rising 50 feet high, the historic Forest Park Jewel Box — a St. Louis architectural gem that is considered an outstanding example of greenhouse design — recently underwent an extensive renovation, including the addition of a large fountain and pool that were designed and completed by Hydro Dramatics.
Surrounding the water features and located throughout the building’s brightly sunlit interior are hundreds of flowers in permanent and seasonal floral displays. Glowing and beautiful, the renovated 67-year-old Jewel Box is listed on the National Historic Register. The building remains a treasured destination for St. Louisans and tourists, and has become a popular venue for events, as well.
The Jewel Box’s new fountain is located in a shallow rectangular reflecting pool bordered by a wide stone walkway. The fountain features graceful arcs of water that span the width of the reflecting pool. To provide additional seating and dining space for larger events, the shallow pool was designed to be easily drained and the fountain turned off.
"Our biggest challenge was to create a fountain and the equipment to maintain it in a space only one and one-half inches deep,” says Anne Gunn, Hydro Dramatics fountain consultant. “Also, there are splash and noise factors when you work with water. We know that water always takes the path of least resistance. When water hits a surface of water, it creates a distinctly different effect than it does when it strikes a hard surface, such as concrete.”
In keeping with the simple and elegant design, Hydro Dramatics installed electronic fountain equipment such as remote water level sensors in nearby planting beds. In lieu of placing water nozzles in their traditional location on the bottom of the fountain, Hydro Dramatics positioned the nozzles on the inner rim of the shallow pool with the arcs of water directed inward. Special decorative grates on the bottom of the pool disguise the mechanical fittings, while the pump and filtration equipment is located in a room on the floor below.
“There were many variables that we had to address, including considerable adjustments to the nozzles and on-site testing to ensure that the arcs of water would gracefully span the pool and create a pleasing visual effect,” Gunn said.
“To make the fountain look simple and elegant took a whole lot of engineering.”