Getting the fountain rolling

Author: Ed Cohen


Few people can resist touching the Kugel ball fountain on the first floor of the Coleman-Morse building.

The fountain is the centerpiece of the building, which opened earlier this year on the site of the former Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore. The 30-inch granite sphere rolls continually on a thin layer of water that also keeps the rock shiny and wet. The water is forced upward by one of two jets, which alternate every few minutes to change the ball’s rotation. Though it floats continually, the sphere would be nearly impossible to dislodge from its concave base by hand because it weighs 1,300 pounds, according to Dave Mateja ‘92, one of the building’s architects. He works for the S/L/A/M Collaborative of Glastonbury, Connecticut, headed by James McManus ’66.

The Coleman-Morse building includes the Coleman Family Center for Campus Ministry, and the fountain is designed to symbolize baptism, community and service. Two round bronze reliefs panels in the floor, modeled on ones in a holy door at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, depict Christ being baptized and washing the feet of the disciples.

Named for its German manufacturer, the Kugel ball is one of about 50 such fountains in the United States, Mateja said.

Another feature of the Coleman-Morse building that’s proven extremely popular with students is the 24-hour social space adjacent to the fountain. The area features a free popcorn machine and soda fountain. By the end of spring semester the facility was going through 6,000 cups and a thousand servings of popcorn per week.

Ed Cohen is the associate editor of this magazine.
Photo by Matt Cashore.

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