The iconic $18M main fountain at SUNY Albany is widely recognized as an important aesthetic and cultural campus asset. It features a complex DMX-512 control system that allows the fountain’s water jets and 245 submersible, perimeter, ring, runway and table LED lights, many of which have variable color (RGB) capabilities, to be custom programmed. This gives SUNY Albany the capability to provide highly choreographed theatrical-type performances that support a variety of special events.
In 2015, SUNY Albany staff expressed concerns relative to the fountain’s reliable performance. Its jets, lights and control system were experiencing failures, and staff were finding the control system difficult to operate. To address these issues, SUCF retained HEA to provide field investigative services and develop recommendations to improve the fountain’s reliability and performance.
Relying on its experience with programmable DMX-512 control systems and complex industrial piping and pumping equipment, HEA set out to diagnose the issues and develop recommendations. The process was complicated because many of the fountain’s components are inaccessible, and unable to be observed and tested without extensive demolition.
After reviewing the original installation documents for the fountain’s components, HEA directed and observed the testing of the fountain’s accessible control, lighting, circuiting and hydronic systems, often relying on their experience to develop reasonable diagnoses for the inaccessible equipment. HEA then worked closely with SUCF and SUNY Albany to develop feasible recommendations for system modifications and/or replacement. Final recommendations included replacing solenoid valves, replacing the DMX-512 wiring, replacing the control system, replacing the jets and improving the air intakes, and replacing the floor and ring LED lights. Construction cost estimates for each recommendation were also prepared.
After completing the field investigation and recommendation development phase (Phase I), HEA was subsequently retained to provide design and construction administration services for Phase II of the project.