One of several fountains in Chicago’s Millennium Park, the Crown Fountain openly invites passers-by to splash around in the shallow reflecting pool and get soaked by the stream of water that comes from giant illuminated faces.
Completed in July 2004, the Crown Fountain designed by artist Jaume Plensa with Krueck and Sexton Architects is an interactive work of public art incorporating video, water features and architectural design to create a lasting snapshot of Chicago’s diverse population. Standing on opposite ends of a huge reflecting pool are two towers that stand 50 feet tall and and which are covered in LED lights behind glass bricks. Every few minutes the LEDs rotate a video image of one of 1,000 different Chicago residents across the tower faces. Each resident smiles for a short period of time, then puckers their lips, and a pipe embedded in the screen 12 feet from the ground sends out a large stream of water, giving the illusion that the huge faces are spitting. As a transition between faces, the tower goes black and a cascading waterfall comes raining down the sides.
When it was unveiled, reaction to the tower was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Without prompting, children and adults rushed into the fountain and began frolicking as that was what it was meant for. Now every summer Chicago residents flock to the fountain to cool off in the imitation saliva of their fellow citizens.
Know Before You Go
Corner of South Michigan Avenue and East Monroe Street.