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The Oculus Fountain
A Water Feature with an Eye to Design



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Chris Roy of Wesco Fountains, Inc. designed the Oculus Fountain at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Roman Fountains-WPI Division (formerly Wesco Fountains, Inc.) was responsible for the supply and installation of all mechanical and plumbing elements, for the water feature, as well as the control system and all electrical in the equipment room.


There are two water features at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the South Entrance Reflecting Pool and the Oculus Fountain in the Contemplative Court. The portion of the project featured here is the Oculus Fountain.

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Pipe routing was closely coordinated through Clark Smoot & Russell (CSR), the general contractor. While the water features are primarily located at ground level, the equipment rooms are over 60 feet underground at the lowest level of the museum's basement.


The Oculus Fountain consists of a ring cascade falling into a square basin within the Contemplative Court. The flow emerges from a 360? stainless steel trough set within the Contemplative Court's clerestory, which can be seen from above through curved glass windows. Water in the trough flows over a stainless steel weir and onto textured UHPC panels. The water, ultimately, free falls twenty-eight feet into the basin below. All equipment within the basin is concealed in the pedestal-mounted false floor. WESCO, working with Roman Fountains' WPI Division, arranged for the custom fabrication and installation of all the stainless steel fittings for the water feature: schedule 10 stainless steel plumbing with grooved clamp fittings in exposed spaces, and welded joints in inaccessible spaces.

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Pipe routing was closely coordinated through Clark Smoot & Russell (CSR), the general contractor. While the water features are primarily located at ground level, the equipment rooms are over 60 feet underground at the lowest level of the museum's basement.


They also fabricated custom stainless steel manifolds in the equipment rooms and supplied all other control room equipment, built the control panels to provide automated control and monitoring of fountain performance, ensured all electrical bonding and supervised the installation and start-up. The fountain has state-of-the-art automated control and monitoring systems. All building materials were compliant with the Buy American Act, a project requirement.



As seen in LASN magazine, July 2017.






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July 25, 2017, 5:32 pm PDT

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Last Updated 07-24-17