Lovejoy Fountain Plaza

Designers: Lawrence Halprin | City: Portland, OR | Project Type: fountain, public plaza
Date Visited: 12.12.12

Locations: 1990 Southwest 4th Avenue
Size: 0.75-acre
Completion Date: 1966

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The southernmost of the three major parks in Lawrence Halprin’s Open Space Sequence, the nearly one-acre-large Lovejoy Fountain Plaza evokes the landscapes of the High Sierras through the terraced concrete steps of its massive interactive fountain.

Installed in 1966, this park was named after Asa Lawrence Lovejoy, one of the co-founders of Portland. He participated with co-founder Francis W. Pettygrove in the famous coin flip to decide whether the name of the new frontier city would be Portland or Boston. Pettygrove, from Portland, Maine, won.

And again, given my timing, the Lovejoy Fountain had been turned off for the season. My photographs don’t capture the life of the space during the summertime, however, it was still interesting to walk up and around the terraced fountain and examine its geometric skeleton, the modern interpretation of the organic landforms of the High Sierra mountains.

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Lovejoy Fountain with water. Credit: flickr.com

From The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s description:

“Vegetation is kept at the park’s perimeter, while within the plaza active fountains mimic the natural waterfalls and rushing streams of the nearby Cascade Range, culminating in quiet pools that invite visitors not just to look, but also to participate in the water feature itself.”

And a description from The Oregonian of the park on the year it opened: “The fountain wonderfully captures the spirit of Oregon’s streams. Pouring in a sheet over the lip of the upper pool, the water is whipped into a foaming cascade as it splashes down over an irregular series of stairsteps and then out again into a placid lower basin.”

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