MCWB ARCHITECTS
388 BROADWAY, ALBANY, NY  12207   518.433.9394
5525 OLDE TOWNE ROAD, SUITE B, WILLIAMSBURG, VA  23188   757.221.0713
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Florida Southern College

Water Dome

Frank Lloyd Wright’s earliest drawings for the master scheme of Florida Southern College featured a large circular fountain which was intended to serve as the focal point for the campus. During the first months of construction on the new campus site, the first area to be excavated was the fountain basin, and all subsequent dimensions for the campus layout had some relationship to this feature. Wright’s renderings and notations during the conceptual planning phase indicate that the fountain was to be a great dome of water measuring 160 feet in diameter. Archival evidence of the Water Dome found during the research phase of the Campus Heritage Plan revealed that Wright was never able to complete this pivotal feature of his scheme. Instead, the fountain remained a reflecting pool into the 1960s when it was finally filled in and formed into three smaller pools. In 2007, Florida Southern College retained MCWB Architects to finally realize Wright’s original vision for this feature.

 

After studying all of Wright’s original drawings and letters related to the fountain and discovering that the original basin was still extant beneath later period layers of concrete, the Water Dome was designed using modern equipment, piping and controls unavailable to Wright during his lifetime. This equipment was installed in a newly restored pump house designed by Wright.

 

In October 2007, the Water Dome was activated for the first time, thereby completing a project imagined by Wright sixty nine years earlier. Now that the Water Dome operates on a daily basis, the importance of this feature to Wright’s scheme is exceedingly obvious. It indeed forms a majestic focal point for the campus and is admired by thousands of students and visitors.