After more than two years of construction, the University at Albany’s iconic fountain will be turned on just in time for graduation.
Monday marked the first day the fountain’s 42 nozzles shot water into the air as contractors worked to wrap up final tests before its grand debut expected next week.
Students at UAlbany gathered around the fountain Monday afternoon, snapping photos with their camera phones and smiling at the site of water below their feet. Ward Fuller, a senior at UAlbany, said he is ready to jump in.
“I am really excited to see the fountain filled with water and turned on for the first time,” Fuller, 21, said. “I hope it opens soon so we can hang out in the water. I am definitely jumping in there.”
John Giarrusso, UAlbany’s associate vice president for finance and business, said the fountain could be up and running as early as next week. In the meantime, water pressure still has to be adjusted, more than 100 LED lights need to be tested and railings have to be installed.
“Oh yeah, the fountain will definitely be on for graduation,”
Giarrusso said. “It has to be on by then. That is our goal. Between the start of next week and commencement the week after, it will be running.”
The fountain’s reconstruction project came with a $20 million price tag for the university, which also included repairs and upgrades to the water tower and smaller fountains around campus.
The main fountain, located at the center of UAlbany’s academic podium, has been under construction and closed off to students since March 2012. To many students, the fountain is the heart of the university.
“It’s so nice to see the fountain back on,” said Christina Olivo, a senior. “It reminds me of freshman year when it was running, and how easy everything was back then. This is a special day for the university.”
Some would say the fountain was best known for the site of UAlbany’s annual “Fountain Day” celebration. The event, which was typically held in April, attracted thousands of students, faculty and staff.
But after a St. Patrick’s Day celebration gone wrong in Albany three years ago, popularly known as “Kegs and Eggs,” the Fountain Day event was suspended and construction started the following year.
Even though Ward is graduating in two weeks, he said he would return to UAlbany next year for Fountain Day. But according to UAlbany spokesman Karl Luntta, there will not be a Fountain Day to celebrate — ever.
But students who never got the chance to participate in Fountain Day say they are just happy to see water in the fountain and construction coming to an end.
“The fountain was only on my freshman year, so it would be great to see it on again,” said Aamir Alam, a junior. “I would love to have it back after all this time, and it would make a good impression for UAlbany. I think people are really excited about this; I know I am.”