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NYC's $20M High-Tech Floating Pool Still Looking for a Home

By Amy Zimmer | June 19, 2017 2:59pm
 A rendering of Plus Pool.
A rendering of Plus Pool.
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PlayLab

BROOKLYN — A massive floating pool with its own river water-cleaning filtration system is coming to New York City … at some point.

The team behind the ambitious $20 million “Plus POOL” project, which was announced in 2010 and had originally aimed to open by this summer, is still working with the city on identifying a site to host its plus-shaped pool that is designed to reach a diverse community of swimmers with its four pools in one — a kids' pool, sports pool, lap pool and lounge pool.

“Currently, we're building community and talking to officials, parks advocates, property owners, and the many other site stakeholders throughout the city about the potential homes for Plus POOL,” the project’s deputy director Kara Meyer said.

 The giant pool will be shaped like a plus sign and divided into four pools: a children's pool, a lounging pool, a sports pool, and a lap pool.
The giant pool will be shaped like a plus sign and divided into four pools: a children's pool, a lounging pool, a sports pool, and a lap pool.
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+ Pool

The organization is laying the groundwork for a major capital campaign so when a site is selected, the pool will be ready to move forward.

The group has begun the patenting process for its filtration concept that essentially strains out river water gunk and toxins and studied water quality across the city to understand how the filtration system will interact with the system. It also conducted a site feasibility study for 11 spots:

► Brooklyn Bridge Cove, near the carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Dumbo

► Brooklyn Bridge Park, near Pier 2, Dumbo

► Bush Terminal Park, Sunset Park

► Domino Sugar Factory, Williamsburg

► Governors Island

► Hallet’s Cove, Astoria

► Hudson River Park, various locations

► Hunters Point, Long Island City

► St. George, Staten Island

► Transmitter Park, Greenpoint

► Two Bridges, Chinatown

Besides figuring out costs when it comes to the mechanics of a site and whether the currents are too strong, the pool’s team is now diving into the complexities of civics when it comes to the selection process. Many communities are hankering for a public pool — like Brooklyn Bridge Park, where families are angling for a permanent pool to replace its pop up one there right now — but land access and permitting issues still abound.

“There are many many stakeholders involved and every site is unique with it's own set of challenges,” Meyer said. “In many ways, we're sort of at the mercy of those landowners or officials, who of course want to ensure our access and partnership is the best it can possibly be. These kinds of negotiations, we're learning, just take time.”

She noted that the designers were “a little overly ambitious with the timeline” at first.

“The naivety comes from simply never having done something this crazy at this scale before, but then again, who has?,” Meyer said, pointing out that the High Line project, for instance, really started in 1998 and is only being finished now.

Also, when the artists and designers, Dong-Ping Wong and Oana Stanescu of Family Architects, PlayLab's Archie Lee Coates IV and Jeffrey Franklin first conceived the project, “these kids were building something as 20-year-olds on the side, almost as a hobby — while working to build their own businesses and make an actual living,” Meyer said.

Many New Yorkers have been eager to see the pool’s innovative technology in action and are hopeful there could be other adaptive uses for its filtration system.

“On the surface, Plus POOL will create a safe place for New Yorkers to swim in the river, while cleaning a small piece of it,” Meyer said. “But Plus POOL is designed with much larger goals in mind — to help change the relationship that New Yorkers have with their river, to raise awareness of the issues affecting our water quality and create a platform and desire for everyone to participate in our efforts to protect our rivers and keep them clean.”