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Sense of Place

Fountain and rain garden at Mercer University

New area collects rainwater, provide gathering place for football fans
University Business, November 2014
Form and function: The new fountain and rain garden make the space leading up to Mercer’s stadium more attractive, while also managing rainwater runoff.

Mercer University Bears football fans who enter the Macon, Ga., campus through the Stadium Drive entrance now pass the school’s new fountain and surrounding rain garden. The garden, which is 1.5 acres, is not only attractively landscaped—it serves a dual purpose by collecting rainwater runoff from nearby parking lots.

Challenge 

The former tension pond near Mercer’s football stadium had been built to code to control runoff but was unattractive and occupied a lot of space, says James Netherton, executive vice president for administration and finance.

“Quite frankly, it was ugly,” he says. “The area had always been a problem, but it motivated us to think of something new that was both attractive and functional.”

The area was also seeing an increase in foot traffic from nearby student apartments and football fans. Last year, Mercer started playing football again for the first time since 1941, when the team was disbanded because of WWII. New walkways and space for tailgating were also needed near the stadium, says Netherton.

Solution 

The project was built over the summer and completed in time for football season. The old tension pond has been replaced by a spiral walkway that leads to a simple, sleek fountain that’s 15 feet in diameter.

Surrounding the fountain is the crescent-shaped, 100-foot-long rain garden that varies in width from 4 to 30 feet. It’s comprised of rocks and vegetation, and has proper drainage.

Netherton says the new space is “spectacular,” and has successfully collected the modest rainfall that has fallen since it opened.

“The entire area is designed as a shallow bowl so even if we ever get long term-flooding, the space will drain in a day or two.”

Tailgaters also have enjoyed grassy areas surrounding the fountain, he says. “Overall, we’re excited to see how the Mercer community and football fans will use the space as the season evolves.”

  • COMPLETED: August 2014
  • COST: Included in a $1 million fountain/walkway project
  • LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: HGOR (Atlanta)

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