The Scioto Mile Fountain, by Facts and Figures

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Visit the Scioto Mile fountain on a sunny summer weekend, and it’s plain to see it’s become one of the city’s favorite gathering places. But there’s a lot of muscle behind that artful display. We take a look at what makes the fountain tick.

The fountain is made of three-quarters of a mile of stainless-steel pipe, which was fabricated, bent and transported by Kentucky-based Stewart Ironworks. “The craftsmanship that went into creating it was amazing,” says Keith Myers, the fountain’s lead designer, who is now the associate vice president of physical planning and real estate at Ohio State.

An underground reservoir beneath the fountain holds 110,000 gallons of circulating water, which is pressured by 45 massive pumps.

Because people play in it, the fountain is treated like a swimming pool. The water is filtered and chlorinated regularly, says Alan McKnight, director of the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department.

It consists of five stainless-steel “halo” structures with a circular “blossom” in the center. The blossom shoots jets of water 75 feet into the air. On the ground, 1,079 spray nozzles form 24 “hedgerows” organized in a crescent around the halos. The hedgerows shoot waist-high streams of water in easily changeable patterns.

Together, Columbus Commons and the Scioto Mile are one of five finalists for the Urban Land Institute’s 2014 Urban Open Space Award, which every year honors the best public space in the country.

The fountain’s 1,100 fog nozzles can spray mist. “The mist allowed us to create an atmosphere in the park that’s very unique. When you light that mist, it has a very ethereal quality to it. … It’s an enchanting space,” Myers says.

“We had a desire to create simple and elegant,” Myers says. “We were not trying to create some piece of work based on some arcane theory of design. We wanted to build something people would like.”

The FountainSide program brings free kid-friendly activities like arts and crafts to the fountain select Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. all summer long.