Crown Fountain - Millennium Park, Chicago

Crown Fountain

The Crown Fountain is commonly known as "the Chicago Fountain", and is one of the main attractions in Chicago's Millennium Park.

The fountain, designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, consists of two 50-foot-tall (15-meter) towers, clad in clear glass bricks and set at the ends of a broad black granite floor.

The towers reflect video images that use a system of light-emitting diodes and are projected from within. The images alternate the faces of nearly 1,000 different Chicagoans of different ages and races.

Each person's face appears in the projection for about 5 minutes, slowly smiling and gesturing, until their lips transform into a living gargoyle releasing a noisy stream of water.

Once the image disappears, the towers drop water down their sides like waterfalls. Finally, they light up again to start the next projection.

Crown Fountain has been embraced by the public as a space for relaxation and entertainment. During the summer the fountain becomes a busy playground, generally with adults sitting on the sides and with the postcard of children having fun in the water and waiting for the jets of water to fall from the mouth of the images.

Jaume Plensa believes that the challenge in creating successful public art is to integrate the viewer into an interactive relationship with art. In this case, the artist achieved his goal, since the Crown Fountain invites visitors to splash around, slide into its mirror of water, dispute positions under the predictable jets of water and then put themselves under the waterfalls.

Although this interactivity was planned, the use that the public, and particularly children and adolescents, make of the source, surprised Plensa himself.

The park and fountain are open to the public daily from 6 am to 11 pm

Weather permitting, the fountain operates between May and October.