Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea Big-O Fountain

  • Client:
  • Completion Date:
  • Key Collaborators:
  • Project Type:
    Offshore Structures
  • Service Categories:
    Marine Engineering
    Ocean Engineering
    Naval Architecture
  • Challenge:
    Design a floating foundation for an elaborate multimedia fountain.


Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea introduced a one-of-a-kind donut-shaped floating fountain that combines water, light, and fire to generate stunning displays. Known as the “Big-O,” the 384-foot-long (117-meter) fountain is the brainchild of California-based design firm WET and ECA2, fixed just offshore from Yeosu Expo Ocean Park.

WET tasked Glosten with designing a low-profile floating foundation to support the fountain. The platform had to be aesthetically pleasing, yet robust enough to remain stable as the Big-O fountain propelled shots of water hundreds of feet into the air. Additionally, the fountain needed to be moored in such a way that would maintain its alignment relative to the crowd while accommodating four meters of tidal fluctuation and keeping the platform invisible to spectators at low tide.

big o


The mechanical systems for the floating fountain involved a complex system of compressed air, water piping, electrical power, and signals to support the devices controlling the performance elements incorporated throughout the structure. To ensure that the devices would not generate significant motions once triggered, Glosten created an OrcaFlex model and verified that motions would remain at acceptable levels using a time-domain analysis.

Glosten began work on the floating foundation layout and structure while WET finalized the device layout and details. The team developed the fountain configuration quickly to allow time for site dredging while the design phase was still underway. After the design was completed, Glosten supported WET throughout fabrication and installation onsite in Korea.

With its 400 fountain nozzles, mesmerizing lighting, and holographic displays, the Big-O fountain’s debut was a huge success. As a part of the performance, the fountain’s holographic effects were used to tell a story highlighting the expo’s theme of global cooperation in service of sustaining the world’s oceans.