Geography ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-14-2017


Concerns about water have been at the forefront of public conversation over the last few years, in no small part driven by situations like the drought in California. The drought prompted cities like Los Angeles to turn off public fountains, even though fountains have a very low resource impact. This interaction is more about what a fountain represents; particularly in dry regions, fountains have been used to display power, affluence, and social importance. It has been researched and is now taken for granted that public fountains are a public good, improving microclimates, reducing stress, and adding to the overall quality of a landscape. However, there has been little research done on understanding the experience of people who utilize fountain spaces, or how this is impacted by their social understanding of what those fountains represent. My research explores this relationship in order to better understand the role and value of fountains in modern society. My findings indicate three primary values are attached to fountains: a proxy for nature, an aesthetic landscape feature, or a site of relaxation. Fountains may evoke different values in green space versus urban contexts, and future work is needed at a broader range of locations.

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Department Name


Level of Degree


First Committee Member (Chair)

K. Maria D. Lane

Second Committee Member

Melinda Harm Benson

Third Committee Member

John Fleck

Document Type





water, fountain, denver, albuquerque, landscape, qualitative research