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Crown Fountain, Chicago

#27 of 604 in Things to do in Chicago
Fountain · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
Crown Fountain is an interactive work of public art and video sculpture featured in Chicago's Millennium Park, which is located in the Loop community area. Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and executed by Krueck and Sexton Architects, it opened in July 2004. The fountain is composed of a black granite reflecting pool placed between a pair of glass brick towers. The towers are 50 feet (15.2 m) tall, and they use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to display digital videos on their inward faces. Construction and design of the Crown Fountain cost $17 million. The water operates from May to October, intermittently cascading down the two towers and spouting through a nozzle on each tower's front face.

Residents and critics have praised the fountain for its artistic and entertainment features. It highlights Plensa's themes of dualism, light, and water, extending the use of video technology from his prior works. Its use of water is unique among Chicago's many fountains, in that it promotes physical interaction between the public and the water. Both the fountain and Millennium Park are highly accessible because of their universal design.
Crown Fountain has been one of the most controversial of all the Millennium Park features. Before it was even built, some were concerned that the sculpture's height violated the aesthetic tradition of the park. After construction, surveillance cameras were installed atop the fountain, which led to a public outcry (and their quick removal).

However, the fountain has survived its contentious beginnings to find its way into Chicago pop culture. It is a popular subject for photographers and a common gathering place. While some of the videos displayed are of scenery, most attention has focused on its video clips of local residents. The fountain is a public play area and offers people an escape from summer heat, allowing children to frolic in the fountain's water.
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Crown Fountain reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
2,118 reviews
  • Amazing! Delightful! Creatively Inspiring! Work of genius! Refreshing! Cooling! Fun for youth of all ages. The puckering lips let you know when the water is going the spray. Side benches give a place....  more »
  • I thought this was a really unique artistic fountain. It's really cool how it doubles as art and sort of a water park for small kids. One thing I really liked about the Crown fountain is that the faces that were projected onto the towers were all actually people who lived in Chicago. That's just a very cool concept.
  • Super fun and unique fountain for kiddos. A splash pad, essentially, and every 10 minutes or so, the giant faces spit water out to all the giggling children. The only think that kept it from 5-stars, was that there was little seating for the amount of people there on a July day, and there were areas near the seating that had standing water that had been there for some time. It was rank. Otherwise, a perfect place to cool off in the heat!

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