Columbus, Ohio USA
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Circus elephants inspire artist Malcolm Cochran's
new design for Goodale Park Fountain

March 2010 Issue

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The elephants that will surmount Goodale Fountain are a nod both to the history of Columbus and to the convention of animals in public fountains.

In 2005 the Friends of Goodale Park commissioned Malcolm Cochran to design a new water feature for the pond in Goodale Park. The goal was to replace the existing aerator with a significant water feature designed by a contemporary artist. Cochran’s initial design was approved and fundraising efforts were undertaken, but it became apparent last year that it would not be possible to raise adequate funds for construction. The Friends and Cochran agreed in June 2009 to revisit the project at a lower budget and to start anew with an entirely different design.

A steering committee comprised of several members of the Board of the Friends and other supporters of the project met regularly with Cochran beginning last fall to review his concepts. The artist has worked closely with Peter Korda, founder (now retired) of Korda-Nemeth Engineering, Inc., who has graciously volunteered his time to consult on structural engineering; with Carmine Menduni, Columbus Art Memorial, who will be general contractor and stone mason; and Tom Mallonee, CMS Fountain Consultants, for the design and engineering of the water display. Estimates for construction have been obtained, and the steering committee believes it is reasonable to raise the additional funds for construction of the fountain.

Goodale Fountain is a four-tiered, cylindrical structure constructed of split face light-gray granite block. Each tier is 42” h. The four stacked cylinders range in diameter from 12’ at the bottom to 6’ 4” at the top. This form rests on a 15’ 8” diameter base, therim of which will be polished to set it apart from the remainder of the granite elements. The base will sit 6” above water level, giving it the appearance of floating or hovering on the pond. The fountain is topped by a pair of cast bronze elephants 30” tall. Its total height from water level to tip of the trunks is 17’ 8”. Re-circulating pumps will supply water to a reservoir at the top of the tiered structure from which it will cascade over and down the form. A secondary pump will create fine sprays from the elephants’ trunks. One could envision the spray from their trunks on occasion creating rainbows on sunny days and a hoary mist in the dead of winter.

In developing the design the artist researched the history of Goodale Park and conventions of period fountains. Early photographs of the park show that there have been vertical, rockwork fountains in the park for nearly all its existence. (The most recent such form was removed in 1995.) Year-round operation has been a significant aspect of these water features, and images in winter capture wonderful, naturally occurring ice formations.

Cochran thought as well about the history of the most notable residence on the Park, the historic Sells “Circus House” at the corner of Dennison and Buttles. An exhibition last summer at the Columbus Historical Society made him aware that the Sells Brothers’ Circus was renowned for its troupe of elephants. Perhaps elephants could find a way into the design. Research on historic fountains produced numerous images of fish, dolphins, turtles, snakes and other creatures spouting water. None of them, Cochran thought, naturally emit streams of water from their mouths, but elephants do shower and spray with their trunks. The elephants that will surmount Goodale Fountain are a nod both to the history of Columbus and to the convention of animals in public fountains.

See Also: OSU Professor Wins Project (February 2005 Issue)

For updates, visit the Friends of Goodale Park Web site at

© 2010 Short North Gazette, Columbus, Ohio. All rights reserved.

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