NICARAGUA PART FOUR

HERTY DECIDED TO BUILD A ROTUNDA NAMED COLON ON COLUMBUS BLVD. IN FRONT OF THE FAKE PYRAMID CONTINENTAL HOTEL WHERE HOWARD HUGHES HAD LIVED AND I HAD ORIGINALLY DESIGNED AN ECO ADDITION OF A CONVENTION CENTER AND SHOPPING MALL IN 1987. AFTER ORTEGA LOST THE ELECTION, DURING MY ABSENCE THE TAIWANESE BUILT A GROSS AWKWARD SEPARATE COMPLEX IN FRONT OF THE HOTEL OF A CONVENTION CENTER AND SHOPPING MALL, THE DESIGN COMPLETELY TURNED ITS BACK ON THE VIEW OF THE LAKE MANAGUA . I CRINGE WITH DISGUST EVERY TIME I LOOK AT WHAT GOT BUILT AND RECALL WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BUILT.



MY ROTUNDA SCHEME WAS BASED UPON A COLUMBUS ANTIDOTE OF A COMPASS SPIRALING SHAPE PLACED WITH A NORTH AND SOUTH AXIS. WATER FALLS FROM THE PLANES TIPS TO A POOL BELOW. THE FOUNTAIN DESIGN TOOK 15 MINUTES AND WE SPENT 3 YEARS GETTING IT BUILT. A LOW BUDGET VERSION OF MY SAN FRANCISCO FOUNTAIN THAT I HAD DONE IN 1965 FOR A COMPETITION. THE ORIGINAL DESIGN IN SAN FRANCISCO WAS MUCH LARGER AND COMPLEX. THIS WATERED DOWN VERSION WAS MORE OF A EYE CATCHER FOR MOMENTARY INTERACTION. I STRUCK UP A CONVERSATION IN A PASTRY SHOP WITH RUDY AN ARGENTINA HYDRAULIC ENGINEER, WHO HAD AN IMPRESSIVE SALES PITCH. SO I BROUGHT HIM ON BOARD. HE WAS SKILLED AT BUYING USED EQUIPMENT AT A FRACTION OF THE PRICE OF NEW EQUIPMENT AND CONSEQUENTLY COULD BID LOW. BUT HIS RESULTS PRODUCED INSUFFICIENT PUMPING POWER FOR THE WATER. HERTY WAS SO UPSET THAT HE KEPT THE WATER OFF DURING THE DAY AND TURNED IT ON AT NIGHT. HERTY WAS PLEASED WITH THE PRICE, BUT HE WOULD HAVE PAID MORE TO GET THE PUMPING SYSTEM CORRECT.

I CALLED OUT FOR A STUCCO FINISH, BUT THE CONTRACTOR SAID IT DID NOT EXIST IN NICARAGUA, WHICH WAS TRUE, SO THEY USED A HARDI BOARD SUBSTITUTION. I REMEMBER THAT MOMENT WHEN I SIGNED OFF ON THE BOARD WITH TREPIDATION. MY FEARS PROVED CORRECT BECAUSE THE BOARD OVER TIME GOT PUNCTURED WITH PEOPLE CLIMBING ALL OVER IT. THE ULTIMATE TEST BEING DEMONSTRATORS SCALING IT TO THE FURTHEST DANGEROUS POINT. I AM FRIGHTENED BY THE CONSEQUENCES OF SOMEBODY FALLING, THEY CLIMB IT ALL THE TIME.

THE CONCEPT ORIGINATED WITH A MODEL OF CARDBOARD STRIPS ROTATING IN A GRADUAL PROGRESSION OF LONGER STRIPS THAT STACKED ON EACH OTHER BUILDING UP TO THE LONGEST STRIP CANTILEVERING IN AN ULTIMATE NORTH SOUTH THRUST. THERE WERE COMPUTER DRAWINGS DONE BY THE ENGINEER AND WHEN THE STEEL FABRICATOR STARTED TO ERRECT THE PROJECT IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT THE SIMPLE STACKING DID NOT WORK AND WOULD HAVE RESULTED IN THE MEMBERS POINTING UPWARD. WHAT GOT BUILT WAS RADICALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE ORIGINAL MODEL. LIKE MOST THINGS IN NICARAGUA, IT WAS A BIT OF A CHALLENGE. THUS ROUND VERTICAL CONCRETE COLUMNS WERE INTRODUCED TO HAVE THE STEEL BEAMS SIT ON AT THE BACK TIP OF THE REVERSE OF THE CANTILEVER. I WENT INTO SHOCK AND DID THE BEST I COULD WITH THESE COLUMNS, NOBODY HAS EVER COMMENTED ON THEM , THEY DID THE JOB, A COMPROMISE, AND MY INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTERS MAKING MISTAKES TOO.

I WAS AWARE THAT THE FOUNTAIN WATER PROBABLY WOULD BE TURNED OFF A LOT OF THE TIME, SO THE FOUNTAIN SHAPE WORKS WITH OR WITHOUT WATER. WHAT I HAD NOT ANTICIPATED WAS THE LACK OF WATER CASCADING AND HERTY PLAYING WITH THE COLORS FOR THE WATER. ANOTHER SHOCK. THE COLOR GELS REDUCED THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE ILLUMINATION AND CHEAPENED THE LOOK. WHAT COULD I DO? HERTY HAD THE POWER, BUT NOT THE SOPHISTICATION,

THERE WAS TERRACED PLAZA SEATING THAT RESULTED FROM THE SLOPE OF THE ROAD. IN THE EVENINGS, A REFRESHING AMBIANCE OCCURED WITH KIDS, LOVERS AND FAMILIES HANGING OUT AROUND THE FOUNTAIN POOL. ALL SO CIVIC AND SOOTHING.

THE POOL WAS ABOUT THREE FEET DEEP IN THE MIDDLE AND KIDS FROLICKED IN THE WATER. WHEN THE FOUNTAIN WAS ACTIVE THE WATER WAS FILTERED, BUT SINCE THE PUMPING SYSTEM HAS BEEN TURNED OFF FOR YEARS THE WATER GETS DIRTY. MOSQUITOES GET IN THE POND,

THE ROTUNDA HAS BEEN RENAMED ROTUNDA BOLIVAR. HERTY’S PARTY NAMED IT ROTUNDA HERTY LEWITES . IT HAS BEEN PAINTED CRUDELY, BUT NOT PATCHED NOR BROUGHT BACK TO BEING A FOUNTAIN.

THE FOUNTAIN IS CONSTANTLY GETTING IN THE PRESS WITH DEMONSTRATIONS BECAUSE OF IT’S CENTRAL LOCATION, DYNAMIC AESTHETICS, AND EASE OF SCALING TO HANG FLAGS .

A REAL EYE POPPER COMING DOWN THE HILL ON AXIS WITH A DYNAMIC TWISTING SHAPE SITTING IN WATER FRAMED BY LAKE MANAGUA IN THE BACKGROUND. MOTORISTS EXPERIENCING CONSTANTLY CHANGING SWIRLING VIEWS CIRCLING THE ROTUNDA.

THE FOUNTAIN AND ROTUNDA WERE BUILT FOR ABOUT 150 THOUSAND US DOLLARS – NOT BAD FOR A LARGE SCALE MONUMENT. WHAT IS NEEDED IS A LOT OF TENDER LOVING CARE TO BRING THIS GEM BACK.

BEING A PIECE OF ARCHITECTURE IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE MORE STABLE THINGS IN NICARAGUA. POLITICS CHANGE, AND THIS MONUMENT WILL BE RENAMED TO SUIT THE TIME. BUT THE FOUNTAIN HAS NO ALLEGIANCE – IT WAS CREATED FOR THE PEOPLE .

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  • jack

    hi
    please send me palns of this fountain
    thanks