Nine years ago, New Yorkers were promised a floating, self-filtering pool on the East River, but all they've gotten so far is a floating light sculpture. Plus Pool Light has been installed, temporarily, in place of Plus Pool—a floating outline one quarter the size of the original proposal, consisting of LED lights that change color depending on water quality. “It’s about having people look at something beautiful and coming here if they want to learn more,” said Archie Lee Coates IV, a partner at New York-based Playlab and a cocreator of the public pool proposal. But, as he also told The New York Times “It’s been incredibly difficult, painful and exhausting,” navigating the red tape and blockades associated with publicly funded projects in NYC. Plus Pool (or +Pool) was conceived in a brainstorming session amongst Coates and his design friends Jeff Franklin, Dong-Ping Wong and Oana Stanescu back in 2010. The concept began with the frustration that New York City residents are constantly within walking distance of water, but live largely cut-off from it. The Hudson and East Rivers remain too polluted for safe swimming, and public beaches often take over an hour to get to. While waterways in several other major metropolises have been cleaned up in the interest of the public as well as tourists, like the Seine in Paris, New York’s rivers have been unswimmable for over 70 years. Plus Pool would use a state-of-the-art filtration system to help people reclaim their rivers for recreational use, and even strengthen campaigns to keep the waters clean. In response to the passing of the Clean Water Act, many liquid assets in NYC were adopted as Superfund sites by the government, but sites like the Gowanus Canal remain in deplorable condition, as the city has yet to adequately update their storm surge systems—a system so inadequate that a 2018 NYT article titled “Please Don’t Flush the Toilet, It’s Raining,” drew viral reactions. All of that intake affects the ecosystem of the East River, and therefore the light show of the Plus Pool Light. When the quality is at an acceptable level, the LEDs shine turquoise-blue, but as sewage and bacteria levels increase, the lights shift to pink. This real-time quality indication comes from data collected by on-site sensors as well as an algorithm developed by researchers at Columbia University and the tech firm Reaktor. While Plus Pool has been compared to other “Instagrammable” public projects like The High Line, this environmentally sensitive project may be more about addressing the physical effects of human degradation of the environment than reclaiming leisure space. The Light installation has already turned public attention towards the water by offering an unflinching visual representation of urban pollution, and in the era of Instagram and visual storytelling, potentially generating more attention for realizing the Plus Pool project. Plus Pool Light will be on view off of Lower Manhattan’s Seaport District until January 3, 2020.
Posts tagged with "PlayLab":
Starting May 2, New York-based creative studio PLAYLAB, INC. is decking out the glass canyon of Sixth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan with a broad stroke of color in the form of giant, inflatable flowers. The public art installation is sponsored by the Avenue of the Americas Association. GROWN UP FLOWERS consists of six different inflatable pieces, which PLAYLAB describes as “sitting, lounging, floating, standing tall or even bending down to greet passerbys” between 44th and 55th streets. PLAYLAB hopes to harken back to Manhattan’s pre-colonial landscape, one where the “island was covered with wild and beautiful flowers.” As a result of their gargantuan size, the installation’s flowers will be able “to compete with the scale of their surroundings.” Each of the six flowers is assigned a unique stance and personality. For example, Jack of 1221 Sixth Avenue measures 30 feet in height and “loves to draw portraits.” Wilt bends towards passing bystanders and enjoys “all kinds of people and can be a little bit of a talker.” PLAYLAB, INC.’s projects often activate public space with interactive installations, including giant slinky-like tents for the Storefront for Art & Architecture and an ongoing collaboration with Plus Pool to design a water-filtering floating pool on the East River. Inflatable Images, an Ohio outdoor advertising company specializing in custom inflatables, fabricated the oversized flowers. The colorful installation will be up through June.
For nearly a decade now, New Yorkers have been turning their focus on revitalizing the city's waterfront, a trend that has only grown in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. WXY Architecture’s East River Blueway and Bloomberg’s Vision 2020 are two examples of initiatives that seek to build sustainable, accessible, and engaging shorelines for the city. But with summer approaching and the days heating up, what city dwellers may want most from their estuaries is a cool, clean dip. Brooklyn-based design firms Family Architects and PlayLab hope to make that dream possible, but they still need $250,000 to get started. In two weeks, the group will launch a campaign to create a smaller mock-up of +Pool, the floating, plus sign–shaped pool that could land in the East River by May 2015. The mock-up will test the pool's innovative filtration system that cleans water directly from the river to make it safe enough to swim in. The system would use a three-level filtration system within the pool's walls, which filters the river water, making for a pleasant and healthy immersion. The design of the 9,000-square-foot facility combines an Olympic-length lap pool, kids pool, sports pool, and lounge pool, opening the water park up to all levels of swimmers. +Pool previously raised over $40,000 on Kickstarter and has attracted support from engineering firm Arup, local politicians, and the architectural community. Stay tuned for your chance to dip into your wallet for a dip in the pool!