Faces of Chicago

photo of Crown Fountain Chicago faces display
photo of Crown Fountain Chicago faces display

photo of Crown Fountain Chicago faces display

Since its opening in 2004, the Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park has become one of the city’s most distinctive and popular public attractions. Conceptually designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa with architectural execution by Krueck and Sexton Architects, the fountain features two 50-foot glass brick towers facing each other on an extremely shallow black granite reflecting pool.

The towers are equipped with LED digital video systems that display the faces of 1,000 ordinary Chicago citizens. The faces are displayed facing each other on the inward sides of the towers and are intended to appear to be looking at and responding to each other.

Each face appears for four minutes and concludes with a pucker as water appears to spout from their mouths, often drenching onlookers below. In addition to that interactive effect, each tower is equipped with digitally controlled sheeting water effects that fall in changing patterns down the towers’ sides.

The reflecting pool is covered with thin sheet of water, shallow enough to invite pedestrians to walk onto the fountain and, as intended, become part of the art. The surrounding skyline is reflected in the mirror-like surface, as are the faces on the towers, bringing the architecture and people of Chicago together in a dynamic and ever-shifting display of water and light.

The fountain is named for financier Lester Crown, whose family sponsored the creation of the fountain and conducted the design selection process. Construction of the Crown Fountain checked in right around $17 million.

Among many firms that took part in the fountain’s design and construction, Crystal Fountain (Toronto), played a key role designing and engineering the complex water effects, including the acrylic “nozzle” that enables water to appear as though it’s shooting out of the mouths of the faces displayed on the towers.

Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library