Problematic Water Fountain At DIA To Be Removed

June 10, 2010


After being shut down for more than a year, the problem plagued water fountain at Denver International Airport is going to be removed this summer.

After five years of delays, the water feature, named Mountain Mirage, was installed in 1999 in the airport's terminal.

7NEWS reported in 1999 that the original price of the fountain was supposed to be $425,000. However, the price tag started going up when crews decided to retrofit the floor to handle the extra weight of the pipes. Then engineers decided they needed smaller nozzles that made less noise. The final price for the fountain was about $3 million.

The fountain collects about $2,000 from coins tossed into it but it costs $8,000 a year just to keep it clean, the airport said.

Then in 2009, the airport said "significant maintenance issues" forced officials to turn the fountain off. It hasn't been running since.

In a news release Wednesday, airport officials said the fountain is being moved to make way for more underground trains. The pump room for the fountain must be removed to make way for an additional switch for the passenger train system.

"Mountain Mirage is an iconic piece of art for the airport and we hate to see it go," Dave Rhodes, deputy manager of engineering and planning for Denver International Airport, said in the news release.

But adding the switch will allow the cars to move from one side of the tunnel to the other, which will give the airport the ability to add two additional train sets and move approximately 25 percent more people each year, Rhodes said.

The airport will hold two public meetings to review the recommendation to remove the installation, let the public ask questions about the process, and let the public give input on the next art installation in the terminal.

The meetings will be on June 10 from noon to 2 p.m. in the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building Room 4.G.2 and on June 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. at DIA's City Conference Room.

Airport officials said it may take several years before a new permanent art piece is chosen to replace Mountain Mirage.

In the interim, the airport will move another art piece to that location temporarily. DIA officials are looking at a number of options, including moving the Elrey B. Jeppesen sculpture to the Mountain Mirage location. The Jeppesen sculpture is currently located in the north security screening lines.

“We know that the fountain is a popular meeting place and point of reference for passengers at DIA,” Rhodes added. “We hope another piece of art, such as the Jeppesen sculpture, will continue to serve that purpose for our customers as we work to find a permanent replacement that is as equally iconic.”

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