June 23, 2017
Legacy West, the $3 billion, mixed-use development in Plano, TX officially opened in early June, 2017. Opening with it was a massive and colorful entertainment show fountain, designed by Outside the Lines (OTL). To learn more about this particular water feature, and how similar features are enhancing mixed-use projects in general, Connect Media contacted OTL’s CEO J. Wickham Zimmerman.
Q. What role have centerpieces, such as artful show fountains and central park areas, played at retail centers across the U.S.?
A. The nature of retail centers across the U.S. has undergone a tectonic shift over the past decade-and-a-half. Shopping centers and malls have had to reinvent themselves to stay relevant in today’s changing retail environment, and most new retail projects we’re seeing are ‘lifestyle centers’ – large mixed-use developments. Entertainment has been a defining element of these new developments, giving shoppers a reason to stay longer while enjoying a variety of experiences. In fact, studies have found that retail centers with public spaces and entertainment features see a considerable increase in average length of stay, resulting in higher revenue streams and overall sales.
Looking ahead, we see ample opportunities for more well-designed public spaces and artful show fountains at retail centers. Water features such as these will continue to play an important role in ‘placemaking,’ transforming shopping into an experience and shopping centers into destinations. There is a term in the industry called “retailtainment” which describes the combination of shopping and dining with an entertainment experience; this is what people want and often expect today.
Q. How have fountains evolved, and what technological advancements have driven these changes?
A. Fountains have long been the centerpieces of great public spaces. In the realm of water feature design and construction, we have striven to advance the capabilities and presence of water features, not only as a reaction to changing dynamics, but in fact, as a driving factor helping to propel forward the design of public spaces and placemaking. Continually integrating cutting-edge technology is crucial to this effort.
For example, the show fountain at Legacy West features many more nozzles and lights than typically found in a traditional fountain. A master show-control system, which has its roots in concert and stage-show production, synchronizes the audio, lighting, and fountain nozzles. This is a ‘smart’ system, and can send diagnostic information back to us remotely in California. The fountain also has sensors to monitor wind speed and automatically reduce the height of the water show as needed, depending on real-time environmental conditions.
It seems that technology today is all about apps and devices, and this fountain is no exception. The Legacy West owner and management team can control and monitor the fountain from an app on their tablet or smartphone.
Q. What was the vision behind the Legacy West show fountain?
A. The original concept was to create the water feature as one large basin. As the project evolved, however, we realized it made more sense to separate the feature into three separate basins, allowing shoppers to walk between the fountains and gain easier access to the restaurants and retail stores. This separation also allows for multiple perspectives of the show elements, thereby encouraging greater visual participation. Kids, in particular, love being in the middle of the show as it happens around them!
This fountain features 131 fountain nozzles, 398 color-changing LED lights, and is programmed to 14 songs – a number that will continue to grow, offering crowds an ever-changing entertainment experience.
When we design a show fountain, we think in terms of a ballet or orchestra, with each fountain effect having a unique character, and acting as a voice. Our team of designers and programmers choreograph the fountain show to enhance the music. The goal is to create a multisensory experience for visitors, adding an additional reason for them to visit Legacy West. Additionally, this centerpiece enables the owner to command higher rents in areas directly adjacent to this major attraction, which receives higher foot traffic.
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Amy Sorter