New York City was one of the first modern cities in the world to boast a public parks system for all members of society. Central Park was designed as the great equalizer in class-stratified 1900s New York, and the city’s Parks and Recreation department still runs several commercial pools that any New Yorker can use to cool off, swim laps or just enjoy during the hot summer months.
However, two architects are pushing for New York’s public pools to move into another level, as evidenced by +POOL, a proposed facility that would float on the surface of the East River. The pool wouldn’t only serve as the city’s second floating pool, but it would be the first to actively filter water from the notoriously dirty river for swimming use and eventual recycling into the water supply, ABC News reported.
Walking on water
The most striking feature of +POOL’s estimated design has nothing to do with swimming feature at all. Even though the cross-shaped mockups released by designers Dong-Ping Wong and Archie Coates would make for a stunning view against the New York City skyline, ABC News explained that the structure is customizable. With a 9,000-foot swimming area, +POOL is actually made up of four separate sections of varying depths. Adjustable water levels means that organizers can turn the entire facility into a wading pool or one deep enough for diving with the flip of a switch.
However, the most impressive feature of +POOL might be the unique filtration system Wong and Coates have developed specifically for unclean or polluted water sources. In an interview with the New Yorker magazine, the two designers reflected on the fact that Manhattan is an island, yet it’s not safe to swim in the rivers surrounding it. Million of people need to cram into a handful of public or private pools if they want to swim, and Wong and Coates decided enough was enough.
“Just sitting and sweating near the river, and realizing, after years of living here, that it’d be sort of amazing if you could jump in, and kind of ridiculous that you couldn’t,” Wong told the New Yorker.
+POOL works like a giant strainer placed into the East River. Instead of using expensive chemicals that could potentially leak into the river itself, the outer walls of each individual section of the facility remove bacteria, contaminants and other particles that cause discoloration and unpleasant odors. The designers estimate that the filtration system can clean and recycle more than 500,000 gallons of water from the East River daily.
Paying the bills
Wong and Coates are currently stress-testing their filtration materials at a facility at Pier 40 in the Hudson River as they wait for approval from the city to move ahead with construction. However, before any of that can happen, the designers need to secure funding for the state-of-the-art pool that’s expected to cost upwards of $15 million.
However, the public response to +POOL has been enormous. The Huffington Post reported that when Wong and Coates originally put their idea up on the crowd funding site Kickstarter, more than 3,000 people donated close to $275,000 to seed the pair with startup money. It’s not just the average New Yorker who’s excited about +POOL, too – the New York Post reported that Kanye West attended an Oct. 29 fundraising event for the facility.
The public can currently buy personalized pool tiles that will be placed in and around the finished site, with all proceeds going to the costs of pool construction.
Wong and Coates are shooting for a 2016 opening for +POOL in the East River, a body of water that the pair hopes will undergo an image change if the facility is successful. The river has long been ridiculed as the dumping ground of movie mobsters and the receptacle for contaminants from industrial tanker ships, but +POOL would show that, with a little high-tech filtration, even the East River can become a safe and fun place for families to enjoy a day on the water.
Until Wong and Coates receive approval to move ahead with their project, celebrities and common New Yorkers alike will continue to support their cause.