April 15, 2020
Fountains of Reflection
As most of the world remains under quarantine and continues to practice social distancing as a means to keep COVID-19 at bay, many people have found comfort outside of their homes and apartments by taking walks around their neighborhoods, relaxing under trees in parks, and soaking in the calming atmosphere offered by their community’s tranquil water features.
According to civicscience.com, more people are going outside in order to combat the cabin fever that COVID-19 has created. Foot traffic at county and local parks has seen an 11% increase as society finds solace in the peace and fresh air provided, free of charge, by mother nature.
As we find ourselves outside more often during this pandemic, we’re reminded of the relaxing power of water features and have reflected on the experiences we’ve had around them. We’ve said for many years that water features create a sense of place and community. For those of us at Martin Aquatic, one sense of place can be found outside of downtown Orlando’s City Hall, where an open courtyard is anchored by an artistic sculptural fountain that we had the honor of designing early in our firm’s history. Even now with near-empty streets, the fountain reminds us of the lively downtown activity of our former “normal”… the city’s annual art festivals, parades, brisk walks to restaurants during busy lunch hours, and the game day excitement and camaraderie as fans roamed the streets before Magic games or Orlando City Soccer matches. Today the fountain offers a different feeling, but its calming jets remind us of the City’s resiliency in this time of uncertainty.
On the other end of town, another engaging water feature that inspires a sense of tranquility is the University of Central Florida’s Reflecting Pond. While classes are being held remotely and most of the buildings are closed, some of our staff have taken the opportunity to support the campus’ local eateries by carrying out lunch orders and picnicking next to the iconic fountain that Martin Aquatic had the privilege of re-engineering a few years ago. Walking around this central hub of the UCF campus, one can’t help but to linger by this water feature and look back on all the years of the school’s “Spirit Splash” events, where thousands of students gather to take a dip in the pond, kicking off the university’s homecoming weekend. It’s also been home to dozens of die-hard UCF football fans as they Tailgate and wait for kick-off. “It makes me think about all the times I’d sit out by it and study,” says Design Coordinator and UCF alumna, Krista Welter. “I’d be stressed about exams, but the sound of the fountain’s flowing water was always a welcome and relaxing sound in such a nerve-racking time.”
With everything that’s going on around us, we could all take a note from Krista. It’s hard to remember that sometimes we just need to stop and breathe. Take some time to ourselves. Take a walk in a park if you can and reflect on the things that give you joy and a sense of community in a time of ambiguity and isolation. Walk by that fountain you’d always admire on your way to the grocery store and breathe. Find comfort in it and look to the future, because we’re going to make it through this.