The Towers at Williams Square
Williams Square has been an iconic landmark in Irving, Texas’ Las Colinas mixed-use planned community development since it was built in 1983. Surrounded by three tall glass-encased premier office buildings, the pink granite plaza is known nationally and abroad for its unique architectural fountain comprising nine larger-than-life-size bronze mustang horses mimicking a gallop through a watercourse. The mustangs, brought to life by artist Robert Glen of Nairobi, Kenya, are the largest equestrian sculptures in existence and were voted the best public sculptures in the world.
In 2018, nearly 40 years after its creation, the plaza was primed for a renovation. The City of Irving was seeking a way to accomplish this while softening the site and creating a welcoming space for patrons even in the mid-summer Texas heat. SWA Group’s Principal Chuck McDaniel, who had worked under Williams Square’s original landscape architect and designer Jim Reeves on the initial project, was called in to spearhead redesigning the entire space other than the mustangs. Also tapped were Casey Tate, former director of the City of Irving, who was brought out of retirement for this refresh; Dan Ricciardi, developer of the water feature’s first hoof nozzle, to lend his talents to the updated hoof shoe nozzles in concert with SWA Group; and Robert Glen himself, who consulted with the landscape architects on sandblasting and repainting the horse sculptures. A legacy project was born.
The project required stripping out the fountain equipment space, removing or abandoning existing plumbing and electrical to allow for new materials including updated pumps, controls, and treatment systems. When routing the plumbing and electrical from the equipment space to the water feature, OTL had to accommodate for the equipment space being located a great distance – approximately 350 feet – from the center of the water feature and below street level, as well as the newly designed landscape areas with large trees and elevated berms over much of the plaza.
Another challenge: Access to an existing tunnel wall was required to route the plumbing and electrical down the tunnel corridor to the equipment room 150 feet from the wall’s penetrations, yet a good portion of the Williams Square site is on structure, limiting the type and weight of equipment needed to perform the necessary excavation. OTL’s solution was to use a large crane positioned off the structure to place a track hoe in the lower reservoir for excavation, allowing access to the wall. This creative solution helped the company deliver a quality project on time.
A final challenge was providing and installing new hoof nozzles in the water feature used to simulate the splash effect from the mustangs’ gallop. Original designer Ricciardi fabricated adjustable new nozzles that were shaped at the discharge point to achieve a result just as believable and inspiring as the original fountain.
OTL was able to deliver a spectacular refurbishment of a water feature that had for decades been integral to the dynamic spirit of Williams Square. The renewed fountain, with its majestic bronze horses running through water, will allow Robert Glen’s beautiful sculpture work to live on for many years to come. Together with the plaza’s newly completed landscaping, the architectural fountain helps to create an attractive new space for the office towers’ tenants, Irving residents, and visitors to gather all year round.
In addition, a large portion of the project’s original granite was able to be registered and reused for the plaza, saving the City of Irving a significant sum of money. The granite will serve as a special part of Williams Square’s legacy far into the future.
- Architectural Fountain