Chicago?s Millennium Park has become one of the most popular hangout places among Chicagoans since its inception in 2000. Within this famous public space is another popular and rather avant-garde attraction known as the Crown Fountain. It?s a modern and technologically advanced water feature featuring two glass towers with beautiful LED lighting and displays moving photos of Chicago residents.
The funding for the fountain was secured through private contributions which include a magnanimous 10 million donation from the Crown Family. The Crown Fountain is composed of two towers measuring 15 meters of 50 feet high bordering a 232 feet granite space. The Crown Fountain was conceptualized by Spanish artisan Jaume Plensa and actual construction was done by Crystal Fountains and the firm Krueck + Sexton Architects.
The most impressive facet of the Crown Fountain are the LED screens that displays the faces of approximately 1,000 Chicago residents shot in close-up. Five minutes is given to show each of these faces. Each cycle ends when the ?face? purses its lips. Water spouts from the mouth at this part, looking like computer generated gargoyles, which amuses children and the kids at heart. After a short break, a new face is shown which is randomly selected by a computer.
The faces of the Chicagoans that are used in the Crown Fountain were chosen from a diverse number of groups and organizations. It showcases faces of different residents from all walks of life and of different age groups from toddlers to the elderly. The camera used to shoot their faces was the same camera used in filming the Star Wars movies to ensure quality. The subjects were instructed to project several facial expressions and in the end, they were asked to blow an imaginary candle to simulate the pursing of the lips.
The walls of the two towers are fashioned using clear bricks made of glass. At night, these towers appear to radiate owing to the spotlights found at the base of the towers couple with the LED lights at the back of the glass bricks. Only one side of these towers show the faces and spouts water (the side oriented to the granite plaza) and the other sides are blank. During the break between faces, the towers are blank.
Aside from the spouting water from the lips of the digital faces shown in the two glass towers, water also flows on the sides of the towers creating what appears like water curtains. The granite plaza is also a shallow reflecting pool.
The Crown Fountain is definitely a favorite destination among Chicagoans within the Millennium Park. During the warm weather, throngs of people flock to the fountain. Children waddle in the reflective pool and catch the water spouting from mouths of the digital images displayed in the towers.