The winner of the 2013 Pitching the City event may well be one of the coolest ideas to infiltrate New York in the last decade. As the world’s largest crowd-sourced civic project, + POOL has revolutionized our concept of recreation in the city. Very soon, we will be able to swim in an outdoor pool full of filtered water from New York City’s waterways, as it will literally float on the East River. Who in the world came up with this?
In May 2013, Dong-Ping Wong stepped onto the stage at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral to present his groundbreaking idea to a panel of judges and community of urban enthusiasts. Vying against four other worthy competitors, including the Lowline, Wong and his team pitched their pool to the public. You can watch his winning presentation below.
For Wong and his fellow + POOL founders Oana Stanescu (with whom he founded Family New York) and PlayLab, Inc.’s Archie Lee Coates IV and Jeffrey Franklin, this was a big moment and the first time they received major public approval. “By far the most rewarding thing about Pitching the City was showcasing this idea at the public level, not just the industry level of architects and environmentalists,” Wong said. “We got that reaction viscerally and immediately. It showed that our idea resonated on a larger scale and that we’re on the right track.”
Since the event two years ago, + POOL has made significant strides toward becoming a reality. Now a non-profit organization, the company is a full-fledged startup with backing from some major leaders in not just architecture but the world. The + POOL is set tentatively to open in 2018 as they are currently looking for its first location in New York, according to Wong. It’s being developed in partnership with Arup Engineering, IDEO, Architizer, and Storefront for Art and Architecture. The project has been supported and vetted by the New York Department of Parks and Recreation, the Municipal Arts Society, Nike Global and more.
+POOL has clearly come a long way since the idea was launched in 2010. What launched as a simple Kickstarter campaign is now a project that’s garnered interest in cities around the globe, all looking to replicate its tiles and technology.
“We want it to be applicable to a large range of sites,” Wong said. “Our big goal for this year is nailing down the best site for the + POOL, but we recognize its ability as a catalyst for construction in municipal waters everywhere. There could be five to 500 + POOLs for all I know.”
The pool acts as a giant Brita filter, using the pools walls itself as a filtration chamber which will leave clean and safe river water. It’s estimated that it will filter over 500,000 gallons of water daily. Imagine five of these things floating around New York. The more + POOLs, the cleaner the river water.
+Pool introduced the Float Lab last year, a water-quality testing pop-up based off of Manhattan’s Pier 40. Their next step is to obtain all permits necessary for construction of the actual inaugural pool. In the meantime, you can go online to purchase one of the 70,000 tiles that will cover its surface.
+ POOL started with a a simple idea of making the city’s river swimmable for everyone. If you have a transformative idea in mind, visit the Pitching the City competition page to learn more. Pitching the City helps take architecture out of its echo chamber and brings awareness to heart projects that could potentially change the world like the + POOL. It’s a live event where architects, engineers, or entrepreneurs can make their design dreams come true by just talking for five minutes. Think of it this way — why wouldn’t you pitch to the city if there was a slight possibility that Jay Z would tweet about your project?
All images courtesy + POOL