Designed by Jaume Plensa and built by Krueck + Sexton Architects, Crown Fountain uses numerous design elements including water, light, and glass to create a unique meeting point and reflection space. Though not originally constructed as such, the Fountain has become an interactive summer urban oasis for families and visitors who take refuge in the space during Chicago’s humid summers.
Faces of Chicago
The two identical 50-foot towers project video images from a broad social spectrum of Chicago citizens, a reference to the traditional use of gargoyles in fountains, where faces of mythological beings were sculptured with open mouths to allow water, a symbol of life, to flow out. The collection of faces provides tribute to Chicagoans and was taken from a cross-section of 1,000 residents representing Chicago’s vast demographics in terms of age, gender and ethnicity.
Formation of the Fountain
Krueck + Sexton Architects constructed the towers using 22,000 ten-pound blocks. The surface area of the fountain floor is covered with matte, black granite creating a vast, dark and empty surface. Covering the ground surface is a “water skin,” a shallow reflecting pool measuring 1/8th of an inch deep and is spread out across the whole of the pool measuring 232-feet long by 48-feet wide. The pool invites visitors to step on its surface and look at the images of the sky and city reflected within.
In 2017, Crown Fountain underwent a near-complete restoration to enhance its technology and install new video projection screens. The cost of the original design, as well as the restoration, was completely underwritten by the Millennium Park Foundation using funds from private donors
Artist + Architects
Jaume Plensa is an award-winning Spanish artist and sculptor with a significant amount of work set in the context of public sculpture. His work has been installed in a variety of countries including Spain, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, Korea, Germany, Canada, and the United States.
Krueck + Sexton Architects is a Chicago-based, internationally-recognized architecture firm founded by Ron Krueck and Mark Sexton. Tom Jacobs was named the third principal in 2011. During their 30-year history, they have completed a wide variety of projects that have received numerous national and regional awards.
Visit Chicago Public Library for more archival photos of Crown Fountain.