In the heart of a modern residential and retail mixed-use community in Colorado, a dancing water fountain pays tribute to the town's heritage. Although the Arista development in Broomfield, Colo., is a model of urban living, the city was founded by farmers. In the late 1800s, dryland farms covered these plains, now halfway between Boulder and Denver.
When Arista's owner and designer planned Arista Park as the gathering place for residents and visitors, they envisioned a centerpiece to honor this tradition. The two-block landscaped oasis includes a grand lawn, bandstand, seating areas, and the Arista Plaza fountain.
The “performing water feature” is a raised rectangular fountain surrounded by multicolored concrete circles, squares, and rectangles. The brown, black, off-white, and aqua shapes mimic the circles and squares of crops and irrigation fields on the plains. Raised squares and rectangles provide seating and add depth to the plaza's design.
Creating the vision
Colorado Hardscapes, the project's concrete contractor, meticulously designed each element of the plaza. The Denver-based company specializes in decorative concrete flatwork, including walkways, patios, walls, faux rock formations, and water features.
“The design for Arista Plaza evolved several times,” says Karen Van Heukelem, Colorado Hardscapes' business developer. “We suggested textures and techniques, and worked with the owners and landscape architect to meet their budget and safety concerns.” The contractor recommended raising the fountain walls and adding a non-slip finish to the pavement, based on their previous experience with water features.
The contractor poured cast-in-place concrete over #4 rebar, 18 inches on center, for the plaza's 2000-square-foot paved area. Before the concrete was dry, the crew added a non-acidic treatment and let it sit overnight before rinsing. Colorado Hardscapes developed this Sandscape Texture finishing technique. “Sandscape is a good finish for water features because it's nondirectional, like a broom finish would be, so it helps prevent slipping,” explains Van Heukelem.
To create the crop circle effect, the contractor applied non-reactive Con-Color stains after the concrete had cured, and sealed it with a penetrating sealer.
The structural base slab for the 600-square-foot fountain was 10 inches thick and reinforced with two mats of #4 epoxy coated rebar, 9 inches on center. The contractor finished the fountain's exterior walls with a Sandscape Texture and added a thin coat of Micro-Top cementitious topping for waterproofing and durability.
Inside, they used waterproof, integrally colored black concrete to disguise the fountain's lighting equipment. They sealed the concrete with black Thoroseal. Black concrete pillars with a smooth finish accentuate each corner of the fountain, in contrast to the surrounding earthtones.
Thirteen Colorado Hardscapes professionals composed of three separate teams worked on Arista Plaza for 10 months. They coordinated with other contractors who installed structural, electrical, and mechanical elements.
Their biggest asset may have been patience. “Every contractor wants to be involved in the whole design process, but you can't really put a dollar amount on the time you spend,” Van Heukelem says. “Although, I'm sure it was worth it in the end.” Colorado Hardscapes consulted on the Arista Plaza design for two years before they began construction.
At Arista Park's opening festivities, the celebration ended with a choreographed, musical grand finale show at the state-of-the-art plaza fountain.
Wiens Group, Broomfield, Colo.
Norris Design, Denver
Taylor Kohrs, Denver
Colorado Hardscapes Inc., Denver.
Aggregate Industries, Denver; The Bomanite Co., Denver; Barton Supply, Englewood, Colo.
For more information on the products in this story, visit www.coloradohardscapes.com.