Pumping the Pipeline, Flashing Lights in the Sky: New Skater Shower on Sabine St.

The foundation for Open Channel Flow — a 60-ft.-tall public artwork built from steel water pipe and featuring a pump-it-yourself outdoor shower — is now in the ground at the Sabine Water Pump Station. Over the fence to the south is the new Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark. When the structure is complete, sweaty skaters — or really, anyone on the north side of Buffalo Bayou Park who’s looking for a quick wet thrill — will be able to stand over the 6-ft.-diameter stainless steel drain cover, yank the rubber handle on the adjacent pump, and get doused by “the equivalent of a few cups” of water, released from the showerhead hanging 30 feet overhead.

But dude: Don’t forget about the blinking light! A strobe at the very top of the structure will flash with each pump. Which will cue bored office workers viewing from Downtown to mark another notch in their cubicles.


The original site:

The design is the work of New York artist Matthew Geller, but Metalab architects Joe Meppelink and Andrew Vrana are working to get it built here. The sculpture is part of a series of works funded by the Houston Arts Alliance and the Public Works Department. The budget for Open Channel Flow: $154,500.

Drawings and photos: Matthew Geller and Metalab; Video via Arts in Houston

8 Comment

  • This free shower with clean water will be a godsend for the homeless people who stay around the bayou.

  • But anyone can still wash off in the bayou…

    Who’s paying for the electricity for this thing?

  • Wow – not only is that the best rendering/animation I have ever seen. That thing is really a work of art. I mean it puts those pesky flare stacks on the bay to shame!

    In fact it should probably replace that silly sculpture over by Rothko! Imagine that towering over the reflection pond, quiet reflection indeed.

  • So now Rube Goldberg contraptions are considered as art?

    That’s pretty lame. It’s especially lame when it comes with a $154,500 price tag. Gimme a break!

    Mathew Geller and the HAA are doing a pretty good job of milking the system.

  • Ummmmm $154,000 for a shower for the homeless??? For that much we could have bought one of them one of the $99k houses.

  • Looks like many of the lines are hydraulically superfluous. Structural only. And the rendering combines both flanged and screw pipe connections. That’s bad enough from a design standpoint. But given the huge unsupported lever arm of the ‘shower’ hanging in space, I give this thing 6 months before being completely destroyed by the random passerby doing pull ups. Conceptually, moderately interesting. Execution is a waste of money.


  • As a hydraulic engineer, I am offended. This is clearly a case of pressure flow and not open channel flow. Open channel flow is what is going on in Buffalo Bayou a few feet away…

  • Why so much pipe, and why the strobe? This piece is just more visual clutter along the bayou. All it needs to be a complete esthetic waste is a David Adickes next to it. I don’t like it as art.