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Maquina fountain  

FINDING IT: "Máquina" is located in front of Engineering Hall.

Centerpiece, icon, sculpture, interactive artwork, engineered aesthetic. Máquina (“machine,” in Spanish), the fountain, is part of a dynamic system that uses water as a liquid, vapor and solid. Water flows down its base and cascades northward toward the end of Engineering Mall, where compressed air forces it into a 22-foot-high column. Then water gently spills over the sides of the column and into a reflecting pool at the base.

Students can manipulate some of the fountain’s special properties, including lighting and compressed air effects throughout the system, through a small lab located beneath the mall. Passersby can get into the act as well. You can trigger a variety of fountain water sprays by waving a hand in front of the sensors on the stainless-steel columns that line the sidewalk in front of Máquina.

You’ll notice the words, “Descendant’s Fountain,” etched into the concrete near that sidewalk as well. The fountain’s second name held two meanings for its sculptor, William Conrad Severson: It conveys the educational legacy past students bestow on those who follow them and also honors the memory of the Severson family, many members of which have attended UW-Madison.

A filtering system continually recycles the fountain’s water, including that in its 10,000-gallon underground reservoir. Also underground are the system’s four pumps and two commercial-sized water softeners, which use about 50 bags of salt annually. Fifty-three electrically controlled, air-operated valves control the fountain’s 53 nozzles, which can cycle as fast as 10 times per second and can be programmed in an underground control room or via computer on the college’s network. If any part of the system malfunctions, the fountain identifies the problem and sends E-mails asking for help.

Severson designed the 18-foot-tall stainless-steel fountain as a link between art and engineering. “Máquina represents the engineer’s tools, their aesthetics, and the engineer’s role in creative problem solving,” once said the artist, who died in 1999.

It is the focal point of Engineering Mall and has become the symbol with which people—both on campus and off—identify the College of Engineering.

Sculpture and mall funded by donors to the Campaign for Wisconsin.
nstalled in summer 1994.

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Copyright 2001 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
Date last modified: 16-Mar-2004 11:52:00 CST
Date created: 21-May-2002
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