September 26, 2014


High Point University’s President Nido Qubein demands the “wow factor”!  As the driving force behind the growth at HPU, Qubein has created a campus that is an exceptional learning institution. The University partnered with landscape architect Greg Mercer of Mercer Architecture in 2000 for a complete campus transformation strategy. A few years later, Roman Fountains was invited to join the team as their water feature designer and equipment manufacturer. Since that time, nearly a dozen water features have become an integral part of the campus transformation.

Roman Fountains’ first project with the group came in 2005 when Bryan Had was contacted by Mercer to consult on the engineering of a new fountain. After that first fountain was completed, a new partnership was born. Since that time, Mercer and Had have collaborated together on 11 fountains on the HPU campus.

IMG_1303Each of these fountains has its own unique qualities and objectives, ranging from a gathering place, an inspirational piece of art, a place for students, or even as an architectural element to help control traffic patterns. Whether the intent is a serene reflective pool or a powerful fountain of display jets, one thing is certain – Qubein insists on more water.  Mercer says “we design fountains as part of the building,” adding “most of the fountains are high energy features.” Qubein likes movement, sound, flow, and an overall sense of wonderment.

The water features on campus have become a main attraction to new incoming students.  Creating a vibrant campus filled with movement is critical in executing High Points’ vision of a transformative campus. Each tour for potential new students always includes a stop at one or two of the fountains to let the students and their parents experience how these fountains contribute to the vibrant feel of the campus. Whether they visit a quite reflecting pool to read classic poetry or they gather with new friends around a powerful fountain, one thing is sure – these fountains are a part of the students’ daily lives. Greg Mercer’s style and design make these features a seamless, natural addition to the stunning grounds at High Point University.

One item that all the fountains have in common are tight deadlines. While students are in session, the design, engineering, and fabrication takes place. Once summer arrives and the students have left campus, there is a small window to deliver equipment, install piping, and construct the fountain structure. Bryan Had of Roman Fountains stays is constant communication with Mercer Architecture, installation contractors, and the construction manager, so that deadlines are met. Mercer comments, “we have a true relationship with Roman Fountains, they understand both our vision and our challenges.” Steve Potter, Director of Facilities for HPU, says “the best thing about Roman Fountains is that they make sure the fountain functions as it was designed.”

It’s easy to see why this relationship continues to grow. There is a mutual respect for all three entities in this group. Mercer says “often times I’ll send Bryan a concept and ask ‘what I need to do to make this work?’.” This type of early collaboration is what makes each project successful. The design for an additional fountain to be built in the Summer of 2015 has already been designed and is waiting for school to let out in May.

The future certainly looks bright for all three groups. High Point University is currently ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report for regional colleges in the south. Mercer Architecture remains HPU’s landscape architect and is continuing with the transformation of this institution. Roman Fountains continues its partnership and looks forward to an exciting future working on the HPU campus.