+ POOL

 

About Us

+ POOL reclaims New York’s natural resources by opening our waters. What began as an idea for a water-filtering floating swimming pool, conceived by a small group of designers, has since launched a movement to restore the utility of our waterways. We support the preservation, restoration and conservation of natural bodies of water; promote water stewardship; and provide quality swim instruction and environmental education for New Yorkers. We enable people to care for and co-exist with nature, and work towards a future where everyone has the ability to enjoy the water that surrounds them.

 

Our Focus

+ POOL is a city and state-wide participatory effort, powered by the people that surround, question and engage with our shared vision to promote equitable access to the waters surrounding New York.  Our organization’s work is centered around three core pillars:

  1. Swimming in NYC’s waters is possible. Through our work with government agencies new guidelines and protocols have been created that will allow safe swimming in more of NYC’s waters.
  2. Creating a river swim facility. With the help of the city and the state of New York, we are constructing a river swim facility that can scale up to numerous facilities across the city.
  3. Designing free swim and environmental educational programs. We’re committed to expanding free Learn-to-swim programs for youth and adults across the five boroughs and raising awareness of the issues affecting our water quality through creative projects.

 

Why river swimming?

River swimming in New York City offers an incredible opportunity to connect with nature and explore the city from a unique perspective. The waters surrounding New York City were once open and accessible to all, but in the early 1900s, rapid war-time industrial development and population growth began to have an impact on the quality of urban waters. As a result, public access to waters for swimming were restricted. + POOL started as a simple idea for: instead of trying to clean the entire river, what if you could clean a small piece of it. And what if you could change how New Yorkers see their rivers, just by giving them a chance to swim in it? And so the idea of a plus-shaped floating pool was born. Like a giant strainer the pool was designed to filter river water through the walls of the pool to create a safe swimming space. This simple idea captured the imagination of the world, launching a movement to reclaim our waters for swimming.

By restoring the utility of the waterways surrounding New York City, we can unlock the benefits of swimming and create a healthier, more vibrant, and inclusive urban environment for all residents and visitors to enjoy.

 

DESIGN

How is it designed?

+ POOL is for everyone, which is why it’s designed as four pools in one: a Kid’s pool, Sports pool, Lap pool and Lounge pool. Each can be used independently to cater to all types of swimmers, combined to form an Olympic-length lap pool, or opened completely into a 9,000 square foot pool for play. Its universally recognizable shape and unusual offshore siting immediately position + POOL as an iconic piece of public infrastructure.

Like a giant strainer dropped in the river, + POOL filters river water within its walls, removing bacteria, contaminants and odors, leaving only safe, swimmable water that meets local and state standards.

What have we done?

We’ve worked with engineers at Arup to study the structure, mechanics, and filtration systems, and ecological consultants at One Nature to maximize + POOL’s benefit to the environment. We’ve spent six weeks on a pier in the East River testing different filtration materials and learned about enterococci and fecal coliform from professors at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. We’ve worked with innovation designers at IDEO and naval architects Persak & Wurmfeld to design + POOL’s floating structure.  We tested the filtration concept in the harbor for five months. We filed and have been issued design and utility patents. We studied the feasibility of various sites with marine engineers at McLaren Engineering throughout the harbor to understand what physical conditions are ideal for + POOL. We advocated for city and state agencies to create a pathway for river swimming. We helped establish regulations for public access with government agencies where there were none. And we gained the support of elected officials, open-water swimmers, waterfront advocacy organizations, and over 5,000 incredible supporters who pledged money through Kickstarter, events, and our nonprofit! + much more!

Where are we now?

We are going to pilot the filtration system in Summer 2024 to demonstrate its ability to meet the new standards that have just been established with city and state regulators. We intend to meet our goal of launching an approx. 2,000 sq. ft. version of the water-filtering swimming pool utilizing + POOL’s design and technology in Summer 2025. Once we have the green light on this, we intend to invest in the full build out of + POOL and other ways to scale safe access to our waters for swimming.

A swim meet is an opportunity for a swimmer to compete in various different strokes and distances, while attempting to drop time.

A free swim is leisurely swimming without any specific goal.

Quick Facts

Total Length 217′
Total Width 217′
Total Depth 11′-6″
Total Area 29,700 sf
Pool Volume 285,500 Gallons

Pool Area 9,500 sf
Pool Depth 5′ – 0″
Pool Length 164′-1 (Olympic)
Pool Width 32′-8″ (4 Lanes)
Summer Operation May 25 – Sept 7
Hours of Operation 10am – 7pm

Weeks/Season 15
Days/Season 105
Max Pool Capacity 300
Max Capacity/Day 1,800
Max Capacity/Season 189,000

Our History

How did it all begin?

In 2010, four young designers – Dong-Ping Wong, Archie Lee Coates IV, Jeffrey Franklin, & Oana Stanescu – had a simple idea to build a floating swimming pool in New York City’s East River that filtered river water through the walls of the pool to designate a safe area for swimming. The four imagined a future where New Yorkers could engage with the water that surrounds them on a regular basis and hoped to change the relationship New Yorkers have with their waterways. The team designed their floating pool concept — a plus-shape with four pools in one – and launched the idea on Facebook.

+ POOL was the first civic architecture project to launch through Kickstarter, the leading crowdsourcing funding platform. Funding from the community supported a scaled version of the + POOL filtration concept and helped build a growing team of engineers, naval architects and water quality scientists to iterate the design. 

 In 2015, a small collective of creative thinkers and deal makers, including High Line Cofounder Joshua David, former New Museum Deputy Director Karen Wong, and architect Marc Kushner, joined the four designers to create a nonprofit to realize its vision of free and safe access to the rivers around NYC for swimming through + POOL. Under the leadership of Managing Director Kara Meyer, the nonprofit designed and launched programs to support its mission of free and safe access for all, including learn to swim programs, environmental education; and water stewardship initiatives. It also mobilized the community and launched a grassroots community-driven effort to demand access to the rivers for swimming.

The organization helped the team refine the design of + POOL’s filtration system with Arup, understand the structural integrity of a floating pool that filters water with Persak & Wurmfeld, and began testing water quality with scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory to inform the design and development of safe process controls and monitoring systems to ensure safe public access.  

In 2017, the organization successfully led a ‘Swim in the River’ campaign that collected more than ten thousand signatures through an online petition, alongside a public relations and letter writing campaign. The petition was sent to then Mayor Bill de Blasio expressing a desire for safe access to the river. As part of the campaign, hundreds of New Yorkers aged 5-85 wrote letters to the Mayor in support of + POOL and a variety of Op-Eds were published in support of the project. 

In 2019, following this grassroots, community-driven effort to seek river access from the city, the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for the development of self-filtering, floating swimming pool and + POOL responded to the call. This historic advance created a pathway for a public-private partnership to open up an area of the river for swimming. In May 2021, Friends of + POOL received a notice to proceed on the project from NYCEDC.

The organization is now collaborating with the State of New York to develop a new regulatory framework that will support safe public access to the waters around NY for swimming, one that will provide a vehicle for the development of floating swimming facilities, nontraditional beaches, and ultimately, + POOL.

Programming

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THANK YOU.
Your donation qualifies you for a tile!

We’ll engrave your name (or any message up to 80 characters) on a + POOL tile and send you a mockup to display and show off to your friends.

Would you like to add a name or message to the walls and deck of + POOL?