Eckbo Fountains center of TCC attention

Anyone who attends a concert at the TCC, and there are thousands who do annually, must walk past the Eckbo Fountains.

The fountains are part of the TCC experience but it certainly is not a good one.

"Obviously, your audience experience goes down considerably if you have to walk through a junkyard to go to a wonderful concert," says Helen Erickson, an architecture project manager at the University of Arizona and who is spearheading a drive to restore the Eckbo Landscape.

The fountains, designed by renowned landscape architect Garrett Eckbo in the early 1960's, have fallen into disrepair in recent years and have become an eyesore.

It's far from the tourist attraction and family gathering place it was designed to be.

It was designed to be a pleasant, quiet experience as concert goes entered the Music Hall.

Now, it's anything but.

However, a new renovation plan, updated to the TCC Commission, is full of hope and promises that it will become part of the 2015 bond election.

The renovation project is part of a $28 million upgrade to the Music Hall and Leo Rich Theater at the TCC.


the entire 5 1/2 acre fountain landscape will cost $8.5 million.

It's a hard sell likely made easier by the innovative plans for the site.

Rather than use potable water as had been done in the past, the entire project will become a water conservation effort.

It will use new technology which will allow the fountains to use water condensation from the giant air conditioners used to cool the TCC and other buildings downtown.

A small project which was just finished, which collects rainwater to irrigate the plants, trees and shrubbery.

It can be expanded throughout the entire fountain landscape if the bond package is approved along with the new technology.

There had been much criticism in the past that the fountains do not represent the true desert landscape which is arid and most likely was a waste of valuable water.

"What's a water fountain doing in the middle of the desert," was a common refrain.

But the new plan is to show what water conservation in the desert can accomplish.

"So what could have been just a reconstruction of something that was built in the late sixties and early seventies, could be done as a win-win for Tucson," says Erickson.

The fountains are at the center of the TCC grounds and with millions being spent to upgrade the facility, neglecting the fountains, once the centerpiece would be tragic according to some.

"The TCC is going to be here for the long haul," says Betty Villegas, chair of the TCC commission. "We have to protect what we have here and make it a place we can be proud of."