Desperate Need of Repair
Though the original font was only 10 years old, shoddy workmanship by the original builder had cause significant damage to the surrounding floors. Though an initial attempt was made to waterproof the font, it was haphazard at best. Water was seeping up through the surrounding floors, causing a slippery and dangerous condition. As a result the, the font was drained and left empty.
Lack of Thought in the Design
The architect's original design lacked any thought into the architecture of the building, the space to be occupied, the acoustics or the practicality of actually using the font. Situated in the entry foyer of the Church, the font is the focal point on upon entering the building.
The original font had a three foot diameter aluminum bowl with a spillway that spilled water from a height of four feet into the lower pool. The sound of the falling water was amplified by the stucco foyer walls and it echoed through the Church. The annoying background noise urged parishioners to use the restrooms during mass. The diameter of the bowl was so small, that infant baptisms could not be performed, as the Priest, Parents and God-Parents could not fit into the space around the aluminum bowl. And, anyone who has ever worked around chlorinated water will tell you... chlorine eats aluminum! The upper bowl quickly developed leaks and became a myriad of assorted patches and repairs.
Access to the lower font's pool was always cumbersome and awkward, as it lacked an external step, hand railings and the internal steps varied in height by over two inches.
The New Design
Paolo was given carte blanche with new design. He proposed a much larger upper bowl, of a cubic design, better fitting with the building's rectilinear lines and mission architecture. The larger bowl would allow larger crowds to access the font at the beginning and end of mass. The height was established to provide access to the wheelchair bound that desired to bless themselves upon entry to the Church. The larger size would also allow infants to actually be baptized in their own parish Church! To assist with infant baptisms, the curbing of the upper cube was designed to be one foot wide, so that infants could actually be laid upon the rim if necessary.
The green slate that lined the inside & outside of the lower pool would be stripped. The ineffective waterproofing and loose mortar bed would be jackhammered off of the walls and floor. The upper and lower fonts would be finished with a custom gradient blend of Italian glass tile mosaics from Bisazza Mosaicos, Vicenza, Italy.
The hand railing from the adjacent stairs would be relocated into the top of the lower pool wall, so that it could provide assistance to both the users of the font and the external stairs. The internal steps of the font would be adjusted, so that they would be of equal height. Additionally, the singular drain was modified into two balanced drains and a vacuum port for maintenance was added. Exterior floor drains were relocated to allow for the installation of the access steps and the upper font cube.
The spillway was redesigned to function as a "wet wall" off of the corner of the cube. Being narrower on the inside & wider on the outside, the spillway's design will create the optical illusion that the water is not level on the top of the spillway.
A bronze statue of the ascending Christ that the Church had in an outer entry, was to be relocated to a commanding position atop the cube. The natural lighting of the overhead skylights would shine upon this space during the day. Overhead lighting was modified to highlight the statue and to accent the shadow lines of this dramatic art piece.
Theology of the Design
Though significant thought went into the redesign of the physical attributes of the reconstructed font, the real importance of the design is found in the use of colors, materials and their placement:
The bronze statue of the ascending Christ occupies a commanding position atop the upper font, gazing through the skylight towards heaven above.
A gradient blend of glass tile mosaicos originates with a blend of blacks & grays and transforms to a blend of yellows - baptism in Christ's name is leaving one's sinful past behind (blacks/grays) and signifies the dawn of a new life (sunrise/yellows).
The upper bowl (cube) is a blend of whites and opalescent pearls... infants that are baptized here are free of mortal sin (purity/white).
A smattering of 24 karat gold leaf mosaic tiles spill from the statue of the ascending Christ, over the spill way & cascade onto the floor of the lower font.... Christ is the source of our everlasting life.
The entry step contains a few yellow tiles... there is a little good in everyone, no matter how evil they may be.
A singular gold leaf mosaic tile is on the yellow exit step... Christ will forever be with those who are baptized & walk in his name.
The shadows from the hands of the ascending Christ touch both the black entry step and the yellow exit step... Christ will guide those baptized in his name through life.
(CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO SEE A LARGER VIEW)
Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa©