KEN GENSER SQUARE — It might dribble a bit and it might not be filled with plants, but the fountain in front of City Hall will be flowing next Saturday as city officials celebrate the opening of Ken Genser Square.
Construction teams have been making adjustments to the fountain, the final major feature to be completed at the Civic Center park, trying to suppress some minor leaks.
Tongva Park, across the street from Genser Square, opened to the public in early September, but on Oct. 19 City Hall will officially unveil the $42.3 million parks with a community celebration.
“What we’ve been working on [with the fountain] over the last several months is an aesthetic issue, which is that the trays dribble water down on the base, which is, we feel, kind of unsightly,” said city architect Miriam Mulder. “They’re going to take down the fences and water will be running in it.”
Some more work may be required after the event, she said.
“What we’re hoping is that if there’s any work that needs to be done it won’t require the fences,” Mulder said. “To be honest, we’re playing this by ear. And they know what they have to do is deliver us what we have in the design.”
The water feature was designed by Fluidity and constructed by W.E. O’Neil, the contractor for Tongva Park.
“Water features are not like normal construction,” said Jim Garland, Fluidity project manager. “This one is state of the art and none of them ever are perfect when you turn them on. This is a normal kind of small hiccups that you have to resolve in fountain construction.”
But will the fountain dribble on Saturday?
“I really, really hope not,” Mulder said, laughing.
Both Fluidity and W.E. O’Neil are working on the fix but it’s unclear if the issue is in the design or the construction. W.E. O’Neil would not comment for this article.
“Water is a funny thing,” Mulder said. “It finds ways to get through. Since structurally there’s not any issues here, it’s more a matter of an aesthetic thing, I wouldn’t ascribe blame, necessarily. Everyone’s working hard to make this work. In the end, I think we’ll have a lovely thing.”
The cost of the fountain itself is hard to determine because three separate company’s worked on it and W.E. O’Neil’s contract covers both Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square. Work has been grouped together, Mulder said, so it is difficult to get an exact cost for just the fountain.
“The costs are broken down by trades (concrete, steel, electrical, plumbing, etc.),” Mulder wrote in an e-mail. “When the builder submits their (guaranteed maximum price), it is broken down by trades and their numbers are vetted against estimates prepared by [the] city’s design consultants and estimators. The costs are checked again when the trades are bid out, and the city must see and approve all bids, with the power of rejection if the bid seems too high. Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square were one project, with one (guaranteed maximum price).”
Mulder said the two parks have been completed under budget, to a tune of roughly $7 million.
Eventually the fountain will be filled with plants but, Mulder said, they might not be in place for the opening. Water needs to run through the fountain for a period of time and stabilize before plants can be added.
The fountain’s 52 basins and 52 water jets honor the 52 rose bushes of the Memorial Rose Garden that previously grew in front of City Hall.
Fountain water flows across the street to Tongva Park symbolically connecting the two spaces.
Tongva Park was designed by James Corner Field Operations, the firm that designed the High Line in New York City.
The celebration runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Tongva Park at 1615 Ocean Ave. It will include performances, interactive exhibits, and food trucks.