Posted by: rcieri | September 29, 2008

Myth Busted: Neil Bromilow sets the record straight on Chandler Fountain

Chandler fountain is typically filled with hundreds of gallons of water, but it has been dry since the start of the semester.

Chandler fountain is typically filled with hundreds of gallons of water, but it has been dry since the start of the semester.

Sept. 26, 2008

By Rachel Cieri

Contrary to popular belief, Wallace L. Chandler Fountain is not sinking into the ground, nor is it breaking in two from a massive crack. In fact, construction on the fountain is nearly finished, and it is expected to be filled with water this week.

According to Director of Construction Management Neil Bromilow, the problems with the fountain are not nearly as severe as the rumors. Because of the massive amount of concrete of which the structure is comprised, there were several hairline cracks radiating from the center like spokes on a bicycle wheel. Water was seeping through the tiny cracks, and in order for them to be filled in with caulk, they first had to be expanded.

“It’s not unnatural for something that’s made out of that much concrete. Think of a sidewalk; that’s made out of concrete and cracks,” said Bromilow.

As the structure was settling into the ground, the walls of the fountain began to bow out, causing some of the ceramic tiles to come loose.

“Imagine that you’ve got an air mattress with rocks under it. Over time, the air mattress changes shape to conform to the rocks underneath it,” Bromilow said to explain the fountain’s structural shifting.

The places where the cracks and “fault lines” appeared have been filled with rubber-like joints to absorb any future movement as the fountain conforms to the ground.

While it was dry, maintenance was performed on machinery like ventilation and pumps used to operate the fountain. The bottom, which was originally black to give the illusion of depth, was recently painted blue to make it more aesthetically pleasing. To the untrained eye, it may have looked like dozens of tiny alien spaceships had descended on the empty fountain last week, but they were simply the reinstalled lights that illuminate the water at night.

Constructions crews are waiting for the newly painted floor of the fountain to dry, but wet weather has slowed the process.

Constructions crews are waiting for the newly painted floor of the fountain to dry, but wet weather has slowed the process.

Much of the speculation about irreparable damage stemmed from the length of time the fountain was filled with construction crews rather than water, but Bromilow explained that weather has delayed repair efforts.

For the bottom to be painted, the concrete needed to be bone dry, which requires five days of sunshine. Instead, construction crews got frequent rainstorms and hurricanes. Whenever it seemed like they would finally be able to start, the clouds rolled in.

“If you ever need a drought broken, I’ll bring you the fountain,” Bromilow said.

Construction crews were waiting for a water resistant coat to dry and machinery to “calibrate” before filling Chandler Fountain, and Bromilow does not expect to have to perform maintenance on it for another 10 years.

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