Historically, large city-changing projects have depended on the personal interests of a powerful individual: someone able to swim across both political and financial waters. But recently, projects like the High Line have shown the power and potential of projects envisioned and led by local communities.
Back in 2011 we visted our friends at CASE in their West Village office and they introduced us to a small firm across the hall: Family. While the team was working hard on a model in the middle of their large table, partner Dong-Ping Wong showed us some of their recent projects. One of them immediately caught our attention. A floating pool for Manhattan. In the form of a cross, it would sit in the East River, filtering its waters into four pools. This amazing -- and seemingly crazy -- idea was tantalizing.
In 2011 Family and PlayLab presented their vision for the Plus POOL (+POOL) using online publications and social networks to quickly attract the attention of thousands of people, not only in New York but around the world. This growing traction was successfully channeled into crowdfunding efforts via Kickstarter, becoming the most successful civic project ever funded in this way. With the $273K raised through Kickstarter, Family and PlayLab were able to conduct feasibility studies for the +POOL. In turn, the media attention garnered by the audacious proposal got the attention of the local government, federal agencies, universities, and even Google.
On Tuesday we were updated on the +POOL at the new Kickstarter offices in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (more about these offices soon on ArchDaily), where the team presented the latest prototype. Launched at Pier 40 in April, the Float Lab collects "some of the most extensive data New York City has ever seen on water quality." This data will be shown in real time thanks to the Google Drive API. The + POOL dashboard is set to go LIVE on May 6th, 2014 on a separate platform: dashboard.pluspool.org. The pool is expected to be open to the public by 2016.
We hope that this project -- and especially the model that has funded it -- turns into an example for individual-led, city-focused projects around the world. Thanks to the Internet, everything is possible. You just need to think big.