EXCHANGER FOUNTAIN

1993 • Anaheim Redevelopment Agency, Anaheim, CA

Stainless steel, tufa stone, recycled redwood fencing, and willow. 4' x 6' x 2.5' (not including tree).

“Santa Ana your water nurtures and your hot winds cool.

The water kissing your lips is an offering.”


The above text condenses issues exemplified in the Exchanger Fountain, a drinking fountain adjacent to a willow and embraced by an ovular fence. The fountain's gray water nurtures the willow tree and naturally cools the drinking fountain, illustrating the inter-connectedness of humans and Nature. The design for the fountain was inspired by historical accounts of the city and anti-gray water sentiments. It also incorporates the need for wheelchair accessibility.


The fountain's dish, inscribed with the text and mounted with a drinking bubbler, mimics the shape of the farm disc which was used to till the once predominant agrarian economy that relied directly on the Santa Ana River. The disc is mounted on a leaning tufa column, one foot in diameter, which is set into a tree pit and extends two and a half feet above the ground. The stone is scored by a deep groove to accept the copper water supply line and to channel gray water. The line spirals up the stone and the gray water spirals down, resembling an Archimedes' screw.


After the patron drinks, the "spent" water (gray water) spills through the disc and saturates the highly absorbent tufa stone. Evaporation, resulting from Southern California's dry, warm climate, cools the stone mass and consequently the drinking water supply line. The remaining gray water then saturates the tree pit which the fountain shares with the willow tree. The sprouting willow tree post, cut from the banks of the Santa Ana River in 1993, refers to Anaheim's first fence-a living fence of willow posts that encircled the community in 1856. This willow tree, once part of the indigenous landscape, is now an anomaly among the large planted palms in the city's formalized streetscape.


A steel fence encloses the fountain. It rises from the square pit and evolves into an elliptical fence with an orbit of recycled redwood. The fence embraces the fountain's precarious angle which accommodates the disabled. The recycled redwood cladding mimics the granite veneer of the adjacent office towers. I trust people are conscious of the offering they make: cooling the next person's drink and nurturing the willow. Reflected in the fountain is the water "kissing your lips," and the interdependence of us all.

© 1993 Buster Simpson

Site Design by Todd Metten

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