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Design ideas wanted for former Fountain Mall site

Sept. 9, 2003

By Jessi Study, reporter

For some, it was tradition to dunk a friend in the fountain on his or her birthday. For others, it was a nice place to study and talk with friends. Now, the disappearance of the fountain has left students stumped.

'I didn't realize the fountain was gone until I was standing on the grass of what used to be the fountain,' Heather Gehrke, a Houston junior, said. 'Freshman students may not know what it was, but I, like many others, am curious about the destruction of the fountain.'

Fountain history

The fountain was dedicated to Vara Faye Martin Daniel on Nov. 5, 1982. It was funded by a $250,000 donation given by Gov. Bill Daniel in honor of his wife. The fountain was designed to blend in with Pat Neff Hall, the Bill Daniel Student Center, and the Carroll Science Building all of which are visible from the fountain.

According to The Handbook of Texas Online, along with her husband, Daniel established scholarships at Baylor and donated money for 15 buildings at Baylor.

Throughout her time with Baylor, she was known as the 'First Lady of Liberty.' Vara Daniel died of cancer on Feb. 7, 1987.

Structure torn down

In April 2003, a national engineering firm found signs of degradation around the fountain.

'While working on another building, they passed by the fountain and saw signs of significant structural damage,' Rick L. Creel, assistant vice president of operations and facilities, said.

After these observations, the engineers performed a study on the fountain. After a second opinion from another engineering firm, the Baylor Board of Regents reviewed these studies and ordered the department of operations and facility to tear down the fountain.

The university then contacted the Daniel family and told them the studies had revealed the fountain must be replaced. Creel stated that the Daniel family was very cooperative about the situation, as well as understanding that there will be a replacement.

Replacement to come

'The fountain is a high priority,' Creel said. 'In order to preserve the great community space, I felt it best to move forward with the creation of the park area (grass, walking path, and benches) until a newly designed fountain is approved.'

Signs are posted around the fountain requesting suggestions for the new fountain. Ideas should be sent to Rick_Creel @baylor.edu. He said he has received 10 design ideas so far.

Creel later will meet with the architectural firm and the administration, and ultimately, the designs will be evaluated by the board of regents in its November and February meetings. Creel said that he has not yet received any negative feedback with these new plans.

'Water features create an environment that promotes reflection and conversation,' Creel said. 'Based on the feedback received thus far, the fountain will be scaled down in size and will be a central feature within a park setting.'