Robert J. Stevenson Fountain

Background information

1974, Howard Troller/Hanns Scharff/Tom Van Sant, 20'H x 24'D

Howard Troller placed a circular fountain in the landscape plans for the lower level of the North Mall. Hanns Scharff developed the concept of jets of water directed into a central drain by 32 curved channels. Scharff made several models before constructing a full size section of the fountain in his studio to test the water flow, and also designed the tile and color patterns for the bottom of the fountain. William Stockwell hired Tom Van Sant to design a sculptured form. His first proposal, a pole capped with a figure sprayed with water, was rejected by the Municipal Arts Commission because of apparent similarities to Prometheus at Rockefeller Center. The Commission later approved the vertical steel pillar covered with brown, beige, tan, gold, black and white ceramic tiles. Birds above each of three hands in the upper half display the Chinese proverb, "The way to hold a bird is with an open hand."

In 1976, two years after it was constructed, the fountain was dedicated to former Los Angeles City Councilman, Robert J. Stevenson (1915-1975). Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Stevenson was a news editor and broadcaster for CBS radio, and field deputy for two City Councilmen before his election to the City Council in 1969. As a Councilman, he supported a ban on off-shore drilling, changes in handling rape victims and measures prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals.

The text has been provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, August 1997.

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