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A Fountain for Ft. Worth:
Tarrant County College

By Lindsay Houts, consultant to Pavestone Company




Pavers used for the fountain and the adjacent plaza area are similar, adding to the design continuity of the Tarrant County Community College site. The pavers measure 3 x 18 inches and 5 x 24 inches (both 4 inches thick) and were manufactured in three shades of gray.

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Tarrant County College Downtown (TCCD) officials had big plans for their downtown Fort Worth, Texas campus. In the redesign of one of their five major campuses, plans were drawn for a large, sunken plaza and a significant water feature to complement the urban surroundings of the college's downtown campus.

Chip Impastato and Brad Goodman, formerly of Mesa Design and now with Studio Outside, produced the construction drawings for the project. Mesa Design was selected by Bing Thom Architects and the SWA Group to produce the drawings. John Wong of the SWA Group designed the fountains project. When construction of the downtown campus reached the plaza and fountain phases in 2010, work was swift.




Raised pavers in the fountain create a ripple effect throughout the feature, an aspect that was important to the designers. Concrete blocks provide further dimension to the fountain.


Early plans for the fountain included hand-set, small, black stones as the floor, but with a fountain the size of a city block, the hand-set, small stones proved to be cost-prohibitive. Impastato and Goodman turned to using pavers for both the plaza and the fountain and found a product out of California that met their needs. The cost of freight for the more than 30,000 square feet of non-standard pavers was a hurdle that school officials were not willing to undertake, so Impastato and Goodman turned to Pavestone Co. and their plant in Grapevine, Texas.

Joey Guedea, a Pavestone Co. representative for the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, worked directly with Mesa Design to create two custom pavers for the project. The pavers measured 3 x 18 inches and 5 x 24 inches (both 4 inches thick) and were manufactured in three shades of gray. Plans for the fountain included raised pavers, necessitating color throughout the paver rather than the standard face-mix. To be as cost-effective as possible and to ensure the consistency of the color, the whole lot of 33,000 square feet of pavers was run at the company's Grapevine plant at the same time and stored by TCCD throughout the project.

The plaza and fountain posed a unique challenge to the team of designers. Parts of both the plaza area and the fountain would also serve as the roofs of classrooms below, making the job of proper waterproofing especially important. Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing rose to the challenge by identifying the best water sealing methods and completing the installation of the pavers.




The fountain begins on-grade and gives way to more than 50 feet of vertical fall. At the halfway point, the fountain becomes the roof of the occupied space below and then falls two stories down into a pool of water.


Andy Wharton, waterproofing operations manager at Chamberlin, explained that there were two phases to waterproofing this project. In the plaza area, Chamberlin used a reinforced, hot fluid-applied rubberized asphalt waterproofing system (Tremco PQ6100) directly on top of the already-in-place concrete roof of the classrooms.

Four inches of insulation, filter fabric and a sand bed readied the area for the paver installation. The three shades of gray pavers, laid without any specific pattern, created a boardwalk look for the plaza area. Polymeric sand was swept throughout the joints to both bind the pavers together and to make them more resistant to water washouts from the storms that are common in Texas.

In the fountain, separate waterproofing systems were used for occupied and unoccupied areas of the installation. The occupied areas first required a layer of Tremco's TremProof 250GC, a sand broadcast, and then five days later (to allow the Tremco product to cure properly), a layer of Aquafin Fountain Coating 2KM. Unoccupied areas were outfitted first with a layer of Aquafin 1KM and later, a layer of Aquafin 2KM. The fountain's pavers were loose set, making them easier to clean and replace.




Longer than a city block, the fountain sits over both occupied and unoccupied college classroom space, posing unique challenges for the waterproofing team. Both areas used Aquafin products, but the occupied area required a Tremco product that was suitable for roofing.


The fountain was intricate in every way, from the earliest stages of design to its waterproofing. The design was exactly what school officials wanted, but challenging nonetheless.

"Nothing is typical in this fountain, it's all very complex," Goodman explained.

The fountain begins on-grade and gives way to more than 50 feet of vertical fall. At the halfway point, the fountain becomes the roof of the occupied space below and then falls two stories down into a pool of water. To achieve the ripple effect throughout the water in the fountain, various pavers in the fountain were raised above others by placing high-density plastic shims beneath individual pavers.

The approval processes for the colors, face-mixes and chamfer designs took nearly as long as the installation itself, along with a lengthy testing process for the waterproofing materials to ensure that the Tremco and Aquafin products would provide the level of sealing necessary for the intricate project. Because the plaza was sunken in, the pavers had to be craned into the construction area several times a week. Chamberlin's team of 22 installers completed the installation of 33,000 square feet of pavers in seven months and with 1,800 man-hours, hand-setting each paver.




Plastic shims were installed beneath many pavers to give them extra height and to create the ripple effect throughout the water. A team of 22 installers completed the installation of 33,000 square feet of pavers in seven months and with 1,800 man-hours, hand-setting each paver.


Ultimately, officials from the Tarrant County Community College Downtown Campus were more than pleased with the addition to their campus. The plaza area and fountain have created community spaces for their already friendly campus, and will be gathering points for their students and the entire downtown Ft. Worth community for years to come.


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October 17, 2019, 6:36 am PDT

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