AKA: Century 21 Exposition, International Fountain, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - exhibition buildings - exposition buildings

Designers: Kazuyuki Matsushita (architect); Hideki Shimizu (architect)

Dates: constructed 1961-1962

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Seattle Center, Seattle, WA

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Located as the focal point of the Century 21 Exposition, the International Fountain projects an idiosynchratic, but futuristic image. Located at the center of a blast crater, the fountain resembles an underwater mine. Its sea urchin-like central element was equipped with 20 jets that spurted water in time with music. Its naval mine-like character may have had significance for its designers, Kazuyuki Matsushita and Hideki Shimizu, who grew up during the bombings of World War II.

Building History

The Museum of History and Industry wrote of the International Fountain: "Built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair to symbolize mankind's efforts to explore the farthest reaches of outer space, the International Fountain is centrally located on the grounds of what is now the Seattle Center arts and entertainment park. It was designed by two young Japanese architects, Kazuyuki Matsushita and Hideki Shimizu, the winners of a $250,000 international design competition for a 'light, water and sculpture display' sponsored and paid for by the City of Seattle. With over 20 spouts, the fountain goes through programmed cycles of shooting water patterns accompanied by recorded world music, which is changed every month and chosen to coordinate with the water patterns." (See Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), "The International Fountain, Seattle World's Fair, 1962," accessed 06/10/2015.)

Structure Notes

Originally, world's fair planners considered building a large moat within which to float gondolas. This idea was scrapped in favor of this more abstract competition entry.


The fountain was altered and enlarged during a $6.5 million restoration effort that took place in 1995. The nature of the fountain was drastically changed at this time; the central element, resembling a naval mine, was replaced by a smooth silver ball, while the surrounding white stones lining the fountain's crater were replaced with pavement. The International Fountain's engineering concept was updated and computerized by the designers of the Bellagio Hotel Fountains, Las Vegas, NV.

PCAD id: 12340