Columbia River

Vancouver, Washington – The highly anticipated Columbia River water feature at Vancouver Waterfront Park (695 Waterfront Way) officially opened to the public today. 

The interactive art installation was gifted to the City of Vancouver by City Council resolution on Monday, Aug. 5. The Vancouver Parks and Recreation Department will maintain the water feature as it draws locals and visitors to enjoy the city’s waterfront for years to come. 

“I believe that carefully conceived environments can create places of meaning within communities,” said Larry Kirkland, the artist who designed the Columbia River water feature. “The best of public art can challenge, delight, educate and illuminate. But above all, it can celebrate the qualities that make each place unique and can create a sense of civic ownership. This pride of place is a building block for the future of these communities.”

Design and Details
The Columbia River water feature journey begins with the monumental structure called Headwaters. This 12-foot tall and 16-foot wide stone and bronze monolith is oriented north and south to the adjacent Columbia River.  

The east face is a cast bronze relief map of the Columbia Basin. The northern Rocky Mountains, Cascades and Coastal mountain ranges and river valleys are rendered in high relief to be touched and traced by human hands. 

The west face is an engraved stone with a topographic map of the origins of the Columbia, the “Great River of the West.” Water cascades down it in a variable flow, reflecting seasonal changes in the flow of the river. The one-inch deep river flows for 150 feet along a molded riverbed past variable-height stacks of textured granite representing each of the Columbia River’s tributaries. More water flows from between these rocks into the original river. The water is chlorinated and can be waded through and played in by visitors.

Facts about each of the tributaries are engraved on the dry side of each granite grouping. Intermingled with the factual text are quotes from literature that reference water and the flow of rivers. Combined, the facts and writingsmerge into a poetic and contemplative experience. 

Donors to the $3.5 million project are recognized on the side of the Headwaters structure.

Donors are Steve and Jan Oliva, who also played a major role in the development of the Vancouver Waterfront, as well as the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. Other key donors are Steve and Jo Hansen, Al and Sandee Kirkwood, Barry Cain, Alvin Charles Berg, Mary Jane Berg, Susan Lynn Berg, Jim and Shirley Johnson, The Columbian, Dean and Kristin Kirkland Family, Marilyn Denham, and Kenneth E. and Eunice M. Teter.

“We’re really happy to have this water feature built,” said Jan Oliva. “This entire Vancouver Waterfront project has been in the works for 12 years, and there are so many good, wonderful people here in Vancouver. Larry Kirkland is the artist and John Grant (John Grant Projects) is the one who built the fountain. It’s designed to show the inlets of the Columbia flowing into it, and the ocean is represented at the end.

“It’s going to be great for little kids. Since we’re involved in the whole waterfront development this is a key piece that is going to the city from the waterfront development group. We love what’s happening here because we feel it’s helping the whole area. There’s a great walking loop that connects us to the land bridge and the Fort Vancouver Historic Site. It’s a good thing, I’m just happy and pleased with it.”

Columbia River

Design and Details About the Columbia River Water Feature

  • $3.5 million gift to the City of Vancouver, accepted by City Council resolution on August 5, 2019, from Columbia Waterfront, LLC.
  • The water is chlorinated and can be waded through and played in by visitors.
  • The Columbia River water feature journey begins with the monumental structure called Headwaters.
  • This 12-foot tall and 16-foot wide stone and bronze monolith is oriented north and south to the adjacent Columbia River.
  • The east face is a cast bronze bas relief map of the Columbia Basin. The northern Rocky Mountains, Cascades and Coastal mountain ranges and river valleys are rendered in high relief.
  • The west face is an engraved stone with a topographic map of the origins of the Columbia River.
  • Water cascades down it in a variable flow, reflecting seasonal changes in the flow of the river.
  • The one-inch deep river flows for 150 feet along a molded riverbed past variable-height stacks of textured granite representing each of the Columbia River’s tributaries.
  • Facts about each of the tributaries are engraved on the dry side of each granite grouping. Intermingled with the factual text are quotes from literature that reference water and the flow of rivers.
  • Donors to the $3.5 million project are recognized on the side of the Headwaters structure.

McKeanSmith is one of the early tenants at the Vancouver Waterfront. Learn more about them here:https://lacamasmagazine.com/2019/07/mckeansmith-law-firm-expands-into-murdock-vancouver-waterfront-tower.html

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