Friday, April 20, 2012

Indoor Waterfall Brings Nature Inside

Jason Soltys /
A side view of the new waterfall at Indian 
Nature Preserve in Bristol, Conn.

By Jason Soltys
Junior Reporter
BRISTOL, Conn., U.S.A. – There aren’t many places that have waterfalls indoors, but Indian Rock Nature Preserve is one of them.
Earth Day 2012
At the nature preserve, which is part of the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut, Executive Director Jon Guglietta wanted the entry area – called the Great Hall – to feel like people hadn’t left nature behind when they walked in the door.
The centerpiece is a large waterfall created by Massachusetts exhibit company 42 Design Fab Studio.
“It’s really hard to find companies that have experience building waterfalls,” said Guglietta.
Construction started in the beginning of September 2011 and finished in that same month, he said.
This waterfall was not only a way to bring nature indoors, but to hide an elevator shaft that was in the middle of the room.
Jason Soltys /
Jon Guglietta, executive director 
of the Environmental Learning
Centers of Connecticut, 
on the new waterfall.
This waterfall has five places for the water to come out, which regulates the flow so that the water doesn’t splash all over the place.
Also, as strange as this may seem, even the sound of the waterfall can be adjusted.
Crevices in the “rock,” really made out of fiberglass, create series of v-notches so that the water streams can be controlled.
The notches can be altered to change the way that the water falls by using modeling clay to fill in crevices or create them.
The waterfall has a pump to keep the water swirling, kind of like a very weak whirlpool, so that all of the water is always moving and algae doesn’t grow.
This livable aquarium, which is currently holding two painted turtles, is large enough to hold half a dozen turtles – and made so that turtles would not be able to crawl out.
There are real shiner fish in the pools, providing food for the turtles.
Along the rock, there are real pincushion and sphagnum mosses growing along with ferns.
At the very top of the waterfall, there are several artificial plants to give the feel of being in a natural environment.
The 150 gallons of water is always being recycled and if any evaporates, more water is added.
The waterfall has seats built into the rocks along the edges so that visitors can sit. It came in six different sections and was assembled at the Indian Rock Nature Preserve.
In addition to the waterfall, there is room for other nature-themed exhibits.
The new floor in the Great Hall, made up of Idaho Quartzite, is made to look like Connecticut’s natural bedrock, which is Mica Schist.
Volunteers, led by master mason Tony Paulo, saved Indian Rock about $30,000 in installation costs, spending about six weeks putting the new floor down.
Jason Soltys /
A view out the windows of the Great Hall at Indian
Nature Preserve is enhanced by the live
indoor trees and plants. 
Small trees and plants add to the natural environment in the Great Hall, and Guglietta said three more large trees will be added.
“We want this to be a nature state,” said Guglietta.
Giant windows let in natural light and offer a nice view of the surrounding woods. Guglietta also wants to put clouds on the ceiling and murals on the wall to make the hall feel even more like a natural environment.

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