Our Unique Approach to Fountain Design

CMS acts exclusively as a design consultant, and like most landscape architecture firms is structured for consultation, design, construction document production, and construction administration. As such, we are dedicated advocates for architects and their clients. By not providing installation services, component supply, or proprietary designs, we are able to provide a wider array of solutions to unique projects. We produce discrete sets of biddable fountain plumbing and electrical drawings and specifications. Our documentation is noteworthy for its comprehensive approach and unique style.

The majority of our clients are landscape architects, but we are equally knowledgeable in working with our architectural clients. Returning clients provide more than 80% of our work, illustrating the difference a truly complete set of construction documents can make by easing communication among team members and reducing costs in the field.

We design water features comprehensively and economically, while emphasizing the importance of long-term viability and natural resource conservation. As industry standards evolve, design requirements place increasing importance on environmental and social awareness. At CMS, we consistently strive to reduce potable water usage and design to the highest health safety and accessibility standards.


“I’ve worked with several generations of partners at CMS Collaborative on a range of highly complex projects, including the National Gallery of Art, the Getty Center, Simon and Helen Director Park, and Apple Park. The CMS team brings a fun, collegial, and creative approach, and they are a supportive partner through even the toughest challenges. When we collaborate with CMS, we know we’ll achieve a successful result.”

Laurie Olin, FASLA OLIN

“CMS has been proactive in modifying designs to match both budget and artistic changes as the projects evolve. They have also worked with the team to identify energy and water conservation technologies that further enhance the water feature’s long-term viability. We definitely recommend using CMS Collaborative services and enjoy their creative and professional approach.”

Kathryn Gustafson Gustafson Porter + Bowman

“Our studio has had the good fortune to have been able to work with CMS for the last 25 years. Dick Chaix was my friend and mentor, and his understated manner, talent, curiosity and quest for quality in all things continues to be a strong presence at CMS. These guys are the real deal and our projects are always better when CMS is involved.”

William S Burton, FASLA Burton Landscape Architecture Studio

“CMS designed a number of water features for one of our firm’s mixed-use projects in Hong Kong. CMS collaborated with the design team (with key members based in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia) in a positive and creative manner, developed prototypes to illustrate and test unusual features, and ultimately produced high quality details and documentation for the client to tender. CMS was adaptive to the inputs and limitations of the project, responsive to clients, and timely in the delivery of designs and documentation.”

Harold Guida, LFRAIA AIA, Partner Guida Moseley Brown Architects

“CMS has served as our fountain mechanical and electrical consultant for over 25 years. This ongoing relationship has evolved because of their technical strength, their responsiveness, and their ability to meet our high standards for desired aesthetic results and long term durability.”

Dee Mullen, Partner The Office of Lawrence Halprin

“I am very pleased to recommend CMS Collaborative to prospective clients. The design and engineering tasks (for the National World War II Memorial) were exceptionally complex and demanding. CMS’ work was first rate, highly professional and on time. Everything worked the way we envisioned it. The credit for this goes to CMS for work well done.”

Friedrich St. Florian Friedrich St. Florian Architects

“I am very pleased to affirm on behalf of Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC CMS Collaborative’s high level of creativity, technical competence and teamwork skills related to the design of water features. CMS provided vital information related to health codes, pumping and vault requirements, aesthetic effects, and cost and maintenance implications. The Design Guidelines for the project won a 2009 Honor Award from ASLA.”

Ignacio F. Bunster-Ossa, ASLA, LEED AP Wallace Roberts & Todd

“We have been working with CMS for 40 years on dozens of projects all over the world. Besides being thoroughly professional, technically innovative and precise, plus on time and on budget, the quality I most value is their creative collaboration. CMS is a rare combination of engineering expertise and design talent. They are passionate about water. I can heartily recommend them to potential collaborators and owners alike.”

William Callaway, CEO SWA Group

Scope of Services


Our Scope of Services meshes well with the professional services of our clients. With decades of experience in the landscape architecture community we are conversant with the methodology, issues, and overall goals of our clients, whether starting in Schematic Design, Design Development, or directly into Construction Documents. We draw from our significant library of projects to provide contextual feedback on elements such as water aesthetics, stone colors/finishes, and feature geometry. Providing this service early in a project can prove valuable later in the design process, reducing design changes and associated coordination.

Design Development

When requested, CMS can produce a Design Development package to assist with coordination and pricing. On less complex projects, a DD package can serve as a basis for a design/build contractor. Design Development documents typically include:

  • Schematic piping diagram
  • Equipment space layout plan
  • Pool fitting location plan
  • Site electrical lighting layout plan (if required)
  • Single line electrical power diagram
  • Performance specification for fountain control system
  • Fountain Plumbing and Electrical specifications comprising 40-60 pages

International Design Development

For our international projects, we can provide an Expanded Design Development package that blends our design services with local engineering. CMS acts as the liaison between the design team, local engineers, and contractors. CMS produces annotated piping schematics, generic details to indicate design intent, electrical drawings, and plumbing and electrical performance specifications for use by the local engineering team to produce the final construction documents. Thereafter, CMS is readily available throughout the construction documentation review process to insure an orderly transition to the local team.

Construction Documents

Our construction document package is designed to mesh seamlessly into the project document set, taking its place with those of the architectural, mechanical, electrical, structural, civil, and other drawings. Fountain design is somewhat prototypical in that familiar mechanical and electrical components are incorporated and arranged in ways that may be unfamiliar to other disciplines. For this reason, our drawings are unusually comprehensive and detailed. This approach can help eliminate many clarifications and RFIs, while simplifying the contractor’s pre-construction work. The straightforward and inclusive nature of the documents supports the installing contractors in carrying out a thorough installation even if their fountain construction experience is limited. Construction Documents typically include:

  • Schematic piping diagram
  • Equipment space layout plan and sections
  • Pool fitting location plan and coordinated piping plan
  • Installation and fabrication details for all subassemblies and pool fittings
  • Site electrical plan with lighting layouts (if required)
  • Single line electrical power diagram
  • Electrical equipment elevation
  • Equipment space power and control plan
  • Fountain control system narrative for use by control panel programmer
  • Fountain Plumbing and Electrical specifications comprising 40-60 pages

Construction Administration

Our Construction Administration services include the review of fountain plumbing and electrical submittals, plus assistance with RFIs, clarifications and change orders. We provide on-site review of construction and can assist with adjustments, troubleshooting, and instruction of maintenance personnel. Site visits are always followed with a comprehensive report and punch list.

Who We Are

We have always strived to make CMS a collegial, comfortable office environment without a rigid hierarchy. We think this promotes discussion and continuing reevaluation of design and administrative issues, allowing our combined talents to develop the most appropriate solutions.

The roots of CMS are traced back to 1964 when Richard Chaix oversaw the fountain division of the engineering firm Beamer Wilkinson. In doing so, Dick effectively established the concept of an independent fountain consultant, providing an unprecedented level of expertise and professionalism to the landscape architectural community. Dick’s open personality and genuine interest in advancing the state of the art allowed a free exchange of ideas with industry professionals and clients. This open approach is still very much part of the CMS philosophy.

In 1981, with the addition of Tom Mallonee, Richard Schuder, and Diane Schuder, the partnership of CMS Collaborative was formed, bringing enhanced design, technical, and coordination abilities to the firm. 2001 saw the retirement of Richard Chaix, Richard Schuder, and Diane Schuder. Today the firm continues as CMS Collaborative, Incorporated.

Geno Viscuso
Partrick Horn
Tom Mallonee