The Fountain Flows Again

Cincinnati Union Terminal’s famous fountain is ready for its close-up. When the building reopens next month after two years of extensive preservation and revitalization, visitors will get their first glimpse of a city landmark restored to glory.

“The fountain is iconic,” Cody Hefner, Cincinnati Museum Center’s Director of Communications tells Soapbox Cincinnati. “It’s the star of engagement and wedding photos. It stands out in historic photos of the building — black and white photos of soldiers sitting on its edge while neighborhood children dip their feet in its cool water in the heat of summer. You’re hard pressed to find a glamour shot of Union Terminal without the fountain in the foreground.”

For this restoration, the entire plaza, including the fountain, was carefully removed, all original stones numbered, and reconstructed in order to provide a unified waterproofing membrane on what is actually the roof over much of the Cincinnati Museum Center’s exhibit spaces. The new green rustic terrazzo finish now matches the 1933 finish found embedded under layers of fountain waterproofing surfaces.

GBBN’s Nick Cates was part of the design team who worked so meticulously on this project. He tells Soapbox that in creating the scope and design for the restored Union Terminal and its fountain teams had to find a way to completely update all of the infrastructure — all structural and mechanical systems — in a way that would keep it open and operational for many more years, yet remain invisible to the visitor’s eye.

“The design team spent a lot of time ensuring that these systems could be creatively woven throughout the building to be either invisible or sensitively organized in order to integrate into the historic spaces or materials,” Cates says. The fountain makes its official debut in Spring 2019.

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