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City Creek fountains share lineage with Bellagio attraction

Published March 21, 2012 9:10 am

City Creek • Utahn invented bloom nozzles for special flower effect.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The owners of the new City Creek Center shopping mall believe one of its biggest attractions won't cost customers a dime.

Three fountains of dancing water, light, fire and music — designed by the company that helped produce the famous Fountain of Bellagio in Las Vegas — will attract shoppers to City Creek's Richards Court in front of Nordstrom.

"Together, they all interplay in interesting ways to make this great show," said Mark Fuller, chief executive and co-founder of Los Angeles-based WET Design, whose more than 200 fountains worldwide include the water feature at The Gateway mall and the fountain at the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Cauldron Park.

Children can run through the interactive "Engage" fountain, which "shoots these crystal clear columns of water up about 5 or 6 feet, and it just stops and blossoms into a jellyfish in midair," said Fuller, a native Utahn and University of Utah graduate who worked with Disney Imagineering on a fountain for EPCOT Center.

Two other fountains, "Transcend" and "Flutter," utilize jets of water and bursts of flame to match lights and music. Special "bloom nozzles" invented by WET shoot a column of water straight into the air, "then that column of water opens like a flower when the sun hits it," Fuller said. "It turns from this stem of water into this wonderful cone and reaches out to the edge of the fountain."

"It's like looking at something in 'Fantasia,' " he added. "It's really quite marvelous."

Water fountains have become a popular attraction for outdoor malls, said Craig Trottier, vice president of development for CenterCal Properties, the owner and operator of the new Station Park shopping complex in Farmington. That center also will have a fountain attraction debuting in May that was partly constructed by one of the companies involved in the "World of Color" fountain show at Disneyland.

"We want something unique and a different attraction to help bring in customers from a larger radius. This really becomes a draw," Trottier said.

The computer-controlled fountains at City Creek took about four years to design and construct. They use underground tanks of compressed air that work like a "bottle of champagne," Fuller said. The system also uses sophisticated safety sensors to turn off portions of the fountains if certain environmental conditions are not met.

"When you look at it, you don't see any equipment," he said. "Our goal is you just enjoy the emotional experience. The last thing we want is to see a bunch of nozzles."

All three fountains will operate year-round, though "Engage" might be turned off during certain days in the winter. Each will continually operate but perform mini-shows hourly.

"The first time I saw the fountains, they were spectacular," said Linda Wardell, general manager for City Creek Center. "The addition of the fire is a feature that we just found really amazing. People are going to enjoy coming here to see the fountains operating during the day. But when they see them at night with the fire, they will really enjoy them. They make the center a destination."

vince@sltrib.com

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