United States

Tanner Fountain

Situated between Harvard Yard, the Science Center and Memorial Hall on the Harvard University campus, this busy pedestrian crossroads was transformed in 1984 by Peter Walker and the SWA Group into a minimalist fountain intended to be inhabited, explored and traversed. Comprising stone and water, this geometric space recalls the rocky, rural landscape of New England and was designed to be a symbolic bridge between the region’s past and the university’s intellectual aspirations. The 60-foot diameter fountain, designed in collaboration with sculptor Joan Brigham, utilizes 159 granite boulders randomly set in concentric circles which overlay the existing asphalt pathways and lawn and incorporate nearby trees. Water emanates from the circle’s center - during spring, summer and fall in the form of mist and in winter as steam from the university’s heating plant - obscuring the center stones and creating a seasonal contemplative landscape. The fountain was the first institutional project in the “Landscape as Art” movement, an outgrowth of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design Landscape Architecture Expression Studio. In 2008 the Tanner Fountain received the American Society of Landscape Architects’ (ASLA) Landmark Award.

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