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K-State Today

September 19, 2022

Groundbreaking for K-State Gardens' reflecting pool set for Sept. 28

Submitted by Scott McElwain

Construction is to begin Oct. 1 on the long-awaited reflecting pool at the Kansas State University Gardens. The privately funded feature resembles the signature reflecting pool in the original university gardens near Anderson and Holtz halls that was removed in 1978 to construct Bluemont Hall.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, with remarks from university President Richard Linton, Dean of Agriculture Ernie Minton, K-State Gardens Director Scott McElwain and others. The construction site is at the gardens on Denison Avenue, just north of the Claflin Road intersection.

"There are three adjoining pools to be constructed," McElwain said. "The reflecting pool is the middle pool, which will be raised and chlorinated to limit algae growth, while the two narrower outer pools are not chlorinated, allowing us to grow aquatic plants such as water lilies."

The combined pools' design measures 50 feet north to south and 28 feet east to west. The nearly $1 million construction project is expected to be completed in January 2023, McElwain said.

Architectural firm Confluence of Kansas City, Missouri, produced the drawings for the reflecting pool located just north of the 115-year-old Conservatory Greenhouse and three-tiered Bidwell Family Fountain. K-State landscape architecture graduates Chris Cline and Hank Moyers developed the reflecting pool plans as well as the Phase 2 plans for surrounding limestone walls to be added following another fundraising campaign, McElwain said.

"The central reflecting pool is raised with submerged pin lights to create a star effect at night. Each end has a waterfall with an infinity edge," Moyers said, which means reflected daylight from the water and sky merge as one.

The Phase 2 surrounding limestone walls have shorter inner walls to create raised flower beds and double as seating for visitors next to the pool. The walls will mimic the original university gardens that had tall, trimmed evergreen hedges around the pool, creating a skylit room and a place of tranquility in the middle of all the campus hubbub.

McElwain said that two existing metal arbors displaying the K-State Gardens' logo form north and south entranceways to the reflecting pool, much like the historic arching cedar hedges separated the old garden rooms.

The KSU Foundation has been instrumental in working with four Manhattan families who have committed to the reflecting pool's construction: Leland and Janice Reitz; Don and Linda Glaser; Dan and Beth Bird; and Warren and Carol Weibert.

The Friends of the K-State Gardens Board also raised $205,000 for the project at its Plant a Seed to Grow the Gardens dinner-auction fundraisers.

Friends of the K-State Gardens President Cheryl Yunk, Manhattan, said board members are immensely proud and appreciative of all the support of the Reitz, Glaser, Bird and Weibert families and explained the dependency of the gardens is almost exclusively on private support.

Yunk said that all the labor-intensive work to keep the gardens beautifully maintained comes from K-State students and volunteers. Student work is paid from donations, not from state funds.