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A one-of-a-kind water feature is a collaborative success

By David Bergstrome

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The Weather Catcher, part of a large reurbanization project in Ft. McMurray, Alta., is a unique above-grade stainless steel structure/water feature.

Acapulco Pools, a commercial pool builder and service provider based in Kitchener, Ont., has worked with Dan Euser Waterarchitecture (DEW) several times over the years and have come to know his water feature designs, which are typically well-suited to the location, reflect functional expectations, and by no means ‘run of the mill.’ In addition to the hauntingly dramatic National September 11 Memorial water features in Manhattan, N.Y., Euser has produced dozens of unique water effect designs all over the world. Despite knowing this, Acapulco Pools did not expect him to say he was designing a “one-off” project called the ‘Weather Catcher’ to be built in Ft. McMurray, Alta., at the Jubilee Centre of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The water feature was part of a larger reurbanization project that included new municipal-use spaces, a café, and an open-air plaza designed with a large moving sculptural stage that would also act as a gathering place for residents in the city.

The Weather Catcher is a unique above-grade stainless steel structure/water feature that was conceived by Marc Ryan and Adam Nicklin, principles of Public Work, a Toronto-based urban design and landscape architecture studio. DEW, as a sub-consultant, was responsible for the development of feasible and effective water feature effects that would complement the overall project design. In turn, Euser recommended Acapulco Pools as the provider of the mechanical and electrical systems for the project.capulco Pools, a commercial pool builder and service provider based in Kitchener, Ont., has worked with Dan Euser Waterarchitecture (DEW) several times over the years and have come to know his water feature designs, which are typically well-suited to the location, reflect functional expectations, and by no means ‘run of the mill.’ In addition to the hauntingly dramatic National September 11 Memorial water features in Manhattan, N.Y., Euser has produced dozens of unique water effect designs all over the world. Despite knowing this, Acapulco Pools did not expect him to say he was designing a “one-off” project called the ‘Weather Catcher’ to be built in Ft. McMurray, Alta., at the Jubilee Centre of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The water feature was part of a larger reurbanization project that included new municipal-use spaces, a café, and an open-air plaza designed with a large moving sculptural stage that would also act as a gathering place for residents in the city.

Due diligence

Prior to its installation, Acapulco Pools met with DEW at their workshop and design offices in Toronto to discuss and learn more about the project, as well as to see where they could help.

Similar to his other projects, Euser built a mock-up of the water feature behind his workshop to test the various effects he was looking for, and to present them to the landscape architect and the City of Ft. McMurray. During this meeting, Acapulco Pools reviewed the photographs of the mock-up and talked about the water feature’s different effects and other important considerations.

By the time Acapulco was approached about the project, the rest of the team’s consultants had already been established, with Paul Hobern of PCL Construction Management Inc., acting as the construction manager. The structural engineering for the project was provided by Mott MacDonald Engineering, which was a critical aspect to the project’s success, as it was important to maintain the architectural vision of the water feature, while ensuring its structural integrity in its ability to handle loads imposed by wind, as well as the weight of the accumulated ice, which would be created by the water feature over the course of the winter.

To complicate this, the structure would need many openings to house the various water feature components as well as to allow the plumbing and electrical to be routed within the interior of the structure in the most discrete way possible.

The stainless steel structure was fabricated by Mariani Metal, which has produced various metal works of art, structures, and monuments all over the world. In addition to handling the mechanical and electrical systems for the structure, Acapulco Pools worked closely with the other consultants on the team, including sub-consultants Culligan Water and Atomizing Systems Inc.

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