The Persian Water Rug Fountain

June 22, 2017

The Persian Water Rug Fountain, found in Balboa Park, San Diego“Chadar”, which translates as shawl, is the style portrayed by the Persian Water Rug Fountain. It is considered as one of the most unique and delicate tile fountains to be found in San Diego particularly in Balboa Park.

The Persian Water Rug Fountain is a water-spurting piece located at a small garden between San Diego’s House of Hospitality and Casa de Balboa. More specifically, the fountain stands at the Southern part of the block with the 1915 Botanical Garden on the North. Set on that location, the fountain serves as a focal point of the scenery that is outlined against the beauty of the previous 1915 Exposition plantings. If the view captures the attention of visitors at daytime, the scene becomes more spectacular after dark. With the indirect lighting directed at the fountain as well the soft lights from below, its surface and urns shimmer and glow in an eye-catchy fashion.

The location of the fountain is simply one of the many executed factors that emphasize its artistry. Its scale also plays a part. The scale of Persian Water Rug Fountain in relation to the area where it is situated is large enough to give an attention-grabbing impact. Then, there are the colors and tile patterns. The image of a Persian carpet draped over a wall is well incorporated using the colors and patterns of the tiles. It works beautifully with the dense foliage in the background.

Richard S. Requa, the nationally known architect from San Diego, was responsible for the conception of the Persian-inspired fountain.

Being located away from the crowded streets preserved the fountain for 70 years. However, it did not give the fountain a free-pass from damage and malfunction. By 1995, the fountain had stopped spewing out water. Its pipes and light fixtures were gone. The only things left were the fountain’s face tiles and dry basin filled with leaves and debris. That same year, 1995, the House of Hospitality which was also designed by Requa, was decided to be reconstructed. The Persian Water Rug Fountain happened to be blocking the path of all the major equipments needed for the construction. The commission had three options for the fountain: remove and replace it with a fiberglass copy, remove and have it in the museum or have it reinstalled once the building’s construction was finished. They agreed on the third option.

Reconstructing and re-installing the fountain started in 1997. Detailed sketch of the original dimension of the fountain, tile sizes and placement were prepared to ensure the accuracy of the design and architecture. Cracks on the panel were repaired, the border tiles were replaced and the fountain’s basin was reconstructed.

Sadly, the sound of splashing water from the Persian Water Rug Fountain is now silenced by the combined noise of commercial jets at San Diego airport, garbage trucks at the walkway behind the fountain and of the parking area adjacent to it. The view which was once pleasant to the eyes is now set against a garbage place and a parking area for commercial vehicles.