Moving Design for Sochi

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During the opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Andrea Silva BLA 02 wasn’t focused on the fifth ring problems. Instead, as a senior project designer at WET in Los Angeles, she was watching a livestream from 12 times zones away, waiting with bated breath as the impressive fountain she’d help design began to come alive to herald the lighting of the torch. Right on cue, the explosions of water grew progressively taller until they reached the 230 feet of the Olympic flame itself.

After joining the project last March, Silva began designing the fountain in April and worked with a team from Russia to finalize the complex piece. As one of three fountain choreographers on the project, she worked on countless details, including making sure that each nozzle was programmed properly to spray in time with the classical music – by Russian composers Tchaikovsky and Khachaturian.

“I’d been making all these mysterious trips to Russia,” Silva told her hometown newspaper on Cape Cod, “but I was under a confidentiality agreement so I couldn’t talk about it before the opening ceremony.”

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Once the Winter Games end this weekend, the Waters of the Olympic Park will remain a permanent fixture in Sochi, which is slated to host this year’s Formula 1 races, along with the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament.

Silva has worked for WET since the company recruited her at RISD over a decade ago. Among the team’s many other monumental accomplishments is the Dubai Fountain – the largest fountain system in the world – built in the 30-acre Burj Khalifa Lake in Dubai. Water “is an incredibly rewarding element to work with because people are attracted to it,” she says. “It has an incredible capacity to move us emotionally.”

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