In what might be a perfect case of “From big to small, we do it all,” Thornton Tomasetti recently provided structural engineering for a fountain atop of a staircase in San Francisco, California. Created by sculptor Ruth Asawa, the San Francisco Fountain was commissioned by Hyatt Hotels in 1970 and completed in 1972 at the city’s Union Square plaza. It underwent a restoration as part of an adjacent new Apple store project. The sculpture consists of 41 individual bronze plaques, each about 26 by 32 inches, with scenes depicting San Francisco landmarks covering the entire fountain bowl, which measures approximately 16 feet in diameter. The bronze cylinder is stepped at its base to fit the plaza stairs on which it sits. We engineered new stainless steel supports for the sculpture and a stainless steel tub to replace the original one made of concrete. “Possibly the biggest challenge was designing connections between the stainless steel structure we designed and the irregular bronze of the fountain—making the connections work for the geometries while also keeping it constructible,” Steve Ratchye, who led the project, said. Our client Artworks Foundry of Berkeley, California, refurbished the bronze and fabricated and installed the steel.
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