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Iconic SACH fountain has rich history and symbolism

The fountain at the front entrance of San Antonio Community Hospital (SACH) has stood as an icon of the hospital for decades. While thousands of patients, visitors, and employees have gathered around the fountain for peace and relaxation, many may not know about its rich history.

Bob Clark, far right in photograph, is an Orange County landscape architect who has worked with the hospital since the 1960s.  He was involved in the original fountain design.  Mr. Clark was fortunate to study under some of the most noteworthy architectural designers in the incredible design movement that took place in Southern California in the 1960s. They included designers like Frank Lloyd Wright and John Folis.  In fact, John Folis led the design work of SACH’s original fountain.

Mr. Clark brought these influences into his renderings for a new fountain to replace the original that was deconstructed to make way for the major expansion project that is currently in progress at the hospital. He not only honored the history of the hospital in his design, but he understands the importance of capturing the rich history and culture of the surrounding community as well. 

A number of stones were retained from the original fountain. These stones will be moved into the fountains that will be scattered throughout the campus.  “This design pays homage to the original inhabitants of this area; the American Indian culture that was here,” explains Mr. Clark. 

The stones, both in the original and in the new fountain, were placed in a circle formation, which he also explains is rich in Native American symbolism.  “The ring of stones was used by Indians to give thanks.  They would go into the center of the ring and give thanks for the sun coming up, the sky, the rain, and for their children.  They had so much compassion.”

The water in the fountain depicts life, from birth to death. “Water represents life because it renews itself over and over again,” says Mr. Clark. “It developed our plant life on earth, which is what developed growth.”  The redesigned fountain incorporates a negative edge in the center where the water falls into a void.  “It’s the same effect that the Ground Zero monument has in their magnificent water. The water spills over into a negative edge and goes into eternity forever.”

The completion of the SACH fountain and front entrance is scheduled for the fall of 2014.

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