Build With Water: Water Features In Today's Construction

Every water feature design is unique. The feature may be built from panels manufactured offsite where others will include structural metalwork, concrete forms, and even wood structures. Let's go over a few common water feature options.

Water Features In Today's Construction
Adobe Stock Images | By kmm7553

Water is a lifeforce, essential for humans to exist. However, when it comes to construction water is both friend and foe. When water is harnessed and contained it enables modern plumbing, facilitates cleaning and maintenance activities on jobsites and once a building is operational, and serves as a source of art and entertainment. The added value of water is multi-fold when it is utilized to enhance the design aesthetic of a structure and the well-being of the people who use the building.

There is a reason that humans crave spending time in the mountains, near streams, waterfalls, lakes, and oceans. Indoor and outdoor water features have grown in popularity post-pandemic as architects and designers work to incorporate design elements that can reduce stress, support good mental health, and benefit overall well-being into projects. 

There are many benefits of incorporating water features into indoor and outdoor commercial spaces. First, they create a unique gathering place for everyone who uses the space. People are naturally drawn to sit around the edge of a fountain and watch the water while they eat, converse, take a moment to themselves, or while kids play. Water features increase the value of a commercial space by amplifying its usability, attracting people, and encouraging them to linger longer, and improving aesthetics.

The scope of the type of water features that can be built today is only limited by imagination. More common water features include fountains, large-format fish tanks, and reflecting pools. But even these more prevalent water features can have elevated designs. Acrylic panels can be incorporated as the walls of fountains and reflecting pools to give the appearance that water is suspended in space as it cascades over the invisible edges. Water walls and even water rooms, where a seating arrangement is surrounded by water on all sides, are also possibilities.

Each water feature design is unique. Some projects will incorporate components like structural metalwork, concrete forms, and even wood structures that act as a base support or complimentary design aspect for the water feature. The entire water feature may be built from acrylic panels that are manufactured offsite and assembled at the building site.

A few common water feature options:

Spherical Fountains

Water globes are a classic, bold statement in any location. Spherical fountains can be constructed as big or as small as desired, depending on the space available. The bigger the sphere, the larger the statement and the more sophisticated a location will look. Spherical fountains can also be grouped together in various sizes for a greater impact. Not only are spherical fountains elegant, but they also provide a tranquil element to fit in any setting.


Water features can be made the main event of a space by building a standalone centerpiece. An above-ground fountain creates a calming focal point for its surrounding area, especially when accompanied by larger shrubs and trees for balance. The fountain can be as large or as small as necessary. Some people choose to have a small lake with a fountain in the middle, while others opt for an intricate, standalone water fountain. Whatever the case may be, a centrally located water feature will surely grab the attention of anyone using the building.

Outdoor Kitchen with Surrounding Water

What’s better than an outdoor kitchen? How about an outdoor kitchen with a surrounding water feature? Many office buildings offer employees outdoor patio areas for meal breaks and relaxation. A covered patio or grilling area is instantly turned into an oasis with the addition of a surrounding water element such as a pond or stream.

Staircase Waterfall

Buildings that require a more modern approach are well suited for a staircase waterfall. A staircase waterfall can stand on its own as a centerpiece or can be incorporated into the sides of an existing staircase. Incorporating some light features into the cascading, stair-stepped water heightens the elegance and sophistication of the area. This detail may appear small, but not many have it, so it’s sure to add a luxurious feel and spark up a conversation.

Water Wall

Incorporating a waterfall into a perpendicular wall is one of the most eye-catching custom water feature options. It adds a unique style and flair to outdoor spaces or even building lobbies. Its large and wide build grabs people’s attention, and the trickling water provides them with a calming sensation. Incorporating a bold water wall into a space exudes style and confidence.


Regardless of the materials required by the design of a water feature, the most important part of the construction is waterproofing. Working with water feature experts versus general contractors who occasionally build water features can be the difference between a water feature that springs a leak within a few months and seals that last for years.

While waterproofing is one of the most vital factors for a successful project, it is also one of the most overlooked areas that property owners make. Most of the time, people don’t acknowledge the importance of waterproofing until the leakage has already occurred. Cracks in concrete are unavoidable and become ten times more costly if ignored. Water infiltration can cause significant problems to a structure from the inside out.

After construction, remind your clients to conduct regular inspections. This should:

  • Ensure all components are working properly
  • Proper water and chemical levels are maintained
  • The integrity of seals has not been compromised

Outdoor water features that are exposed to extreme heat or cold and other elements can require more maintenance and diligent inspections than those indoors. Even if no problems are detected, regular polishing of acrylic surfaces every few years should help maintain the feature's beauty. 

Nothing can compare to the peace and tranquility that a water feature brings to a space. Whether it is an enormous fish tank pillar that can be seen from every corner of a room to a statement-making two-story water wall in a lobby or a more diminutive fountain in a courtyard, the aesthetic benefits of water features could be a potential priceless element to the job.

About the author

Heather Smith, has had a successful career within the habitat construction industry. For the last 17 years, she has championed the organizational leadership within American Sealants, Inc focusing on aquatic and zoo exhibits. and high-end residential swimming pools. A few of their key clients include Sea World, St. Louis Zoo, Disney, Bass Pro, and the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas.