A unique new fountain will grace the front of the Science Center next fall, thanks to a large gift from an anonymous donor, University officials said this week.
The donor recently gave Harvard money for the fountain, which will cost close to $250,000, Peter Walker, the structure's designer and a professor of landscape architecture and urban design at the Graduate School of Design said this week.
George B. Oommen, the project's manager and special assistant to the vice president for administration, said recently the gift marks the first time Harvard has received a donation specifically for a fountain.
Oommen would not disclose the amount of the gift or the total cost of the project.
President Bok has been overseeing the project's funding and keeping in touch with the donor, Oommen said, adding that Bok has shown great interest in the fountain and kept a close watch over its development.
According to current plans, the fountain will consist of a group of large stones placed randomly within a circular area close to 60 feet across. Water jets in the center will form a fine mist extending up to 20 feet toward the sides and close to five feet in the air.
Using steam to create the mist during winter, the fountain will function year round, Oommen said, adding, "there will be a rainbow as long as there is sunlight."
"Basically, it will be like the mist at the bottom of a crashing waterfall, but without the crashing," Walker said.
Construction for the fountain will begin by summer and will be completed by next fall, Oommen said.
Harvard officials picked the Science Center location for the fountain because the area is heavily trafficked, visible from several angles and is currently nondescript, Oommen said.
"When you walk out of the lush Yard toward the Science Center, the area has a very hard edge," he added.
Officials considered, but rejected, a number of other potential sites, including Harvard Square, Holyoke Center Plaza, Boylston Hall and the Yard.
Oommen said the fountain was designed to be used by people, adding. "We wanted to design a fountain that would work and not just an attractive nuisance."
The structure's outer stones will be high enough for people to sit on, and children will be able to play in the water, he added.
The fountain may also include an automatic wind detector which, in high winds, will lower the height of the mist, Oommen said.