Designed by architect Philip Johnson, the Fort Worth Water Gardens are a modernist landscape of vortex-like pools and futuristic angles.
The park opened in downtown Fort Worth in 1974 on a just over four acre site. The area itself used to be known as Hell’s Half-Acre when it was full of brothels and saloons, and the Water Gardens were a way to revitalize the area.
A quiet, meditation pool is surrounded by trees where waterfalls cascade down the walls. Nearby is an aeration pool where 40 nozzles spray 871 gallons of water every minute. The mist from the nozzles creates the illusion of a water bridge connecting one side of the walkway to the other. The pool, however, is 40 feet deep, and attempting to cross the misty bridge would not be advisable. In the middle of the park is a “Mountain” where terraced concrete rises up in a modernist peak.
The centerpiece of the Water Gardens is the Active Pool, where thousands of galloons of water cascades down a 38-foot series of steps and platforms into a vortex. If it appears like a sci-fi landscape, you’re not far off, as it was used in a scene in the 1976 film Logan’s Run.
The park experienced a tragedy in 2004 when four people died in the pool attempting to save one another. The pool was closed and safety features were added and the pool’s water level was lowered to ensure that the sense of descending into a void in the Active Pool is just an illusion of the landscape.