The come-as-you-are mentality also makes a splash pad attractive to urban designers. The flexibility of an interactive fountain made it an integral part of SOM and Hargreaves Associates’ plans for Denver’s revitalized Union Station from the beginning. Since opening in 2014, the spot has become a popular destination for the city.
Even when it’s not used for play, the fountain acts as a giant white noise machine and kinetic sculpture for the nearby restaurants. And when it’s turned off, it’s an event space, thanks to jets that are embedded deep in the granite pavement. None of this was an afterthought, says SOM associate director Kristopher Takács. "Part of our design process included test-fitting such functions to prove that the public space could be much more than an interactive fountain alone."