Editorial Feature

PlusPool: What Engineering Feats Will Be Seen?

Modern-day metropolises are sprawling, densely populated centers that have their own unique set of problems. Innovative solutions in the construction industry are needed to tackle these issues and some ideas currently under development have huge aesthetic and practical value that will improve the lives of city-dwellers whilst also circumventing the worst impacts of human activity. PlusPool is one of these innovations. 

Image Credit: Sasin Paraksa/Shutterstock.com

PlusPool: An Innovative Floating Solution to New York’s Woes

Cities are one of the defining factors of human development over the span of history. New York, like many modern cities, suffers from a lack of space and an abundance of pollution. The city design of yesteryear and heavy industry combined have led to a problem the scale of which has only recently become apparent. Forward-thinking infrastructure projects must foster innovation to solve the problems as we move towards the vision of greener cities.

The +Pool project is one such solution to New York’s woes. This project, a collaboration between the co-founders of Family, a now-defunct architecture practice, and design firm PlayLab, Inc. Backers include prominent public figures like Neil Patrick Harris and Kanye West.

What is the Project?

+Pool is an Olympic-size floating pool that will be situated on the East River in New York, shaped like a massive plus sign. The four arms serve different purposes: a children’s pool, lap pool, sports pool, and lounge pool. 300 people will be able to use it at any time, and the developers have indicated that it will be able to serve 1,800 visitors a day.

Aside from providing an aesthetically pleasing addition to the city’s recreational infrastructure, +Pool has an added benefit: it will be able to clean up the river. The pool will be able to clean 600,000 US gallons per day. The average person in the US uses approximately 80-100 gallons per day.

People still use the river for recreational purposes, despite the obvious health dangers: access to PlusPoool will allow them to do so in a safer manner, protecting the health of thousands of New York residents.

The underlying technology has already been tested with a smaller version installed in the Hudson River. This test version, named “Float Lab” was launched in 2014. Working in collaboration with engineering firm Arup and Columbia University, Float Lab was found to be able to filter river water to pool-quality standards without the need for chemicals.

How Does the Filtration System Work?

The technology will use layers of filtration membranes to clean river water. +Pool’s patented filtration system uses intake filters, ultra-filtration membranes, a recovery heat exchanger, and a tank for the disposal of filtered waste. Concentric layers of filtration materials will be installed in the walls of the pool itself.

Options for waste material disposal being explored include removable catchment cartridges and floating wetlands and oyster reefs. This is an ambitious project that requires forward-thinking in engineering and materials usage.

Future New York - Plus Pool on the East River

Video Credit: Cities Of The Future/Youtube.com

Are There Any Limitations?

The project has run into a few issues, and after a decade +Pool has still not been fully realized. The Coronavirus pandemic forced the project to halt (like so many other areas of life.) Full funding has been difficult to come by – the project developers estimate that +Pool will cost a total of $20-25 million, with most of the funding coming from private investors. However, the interest from celebrities like Kanye West should help the project become a reality.

There are also regulations set down by the local governments regarding construction within the river. Little Island, a park situated in the Hudson River, should set a precedent that will benefit the developers of +Pool. Structural issues will need to be refined: such as how +Pool will be tethered to the riverbed and the design of gangways.

Additionally, the project faces further issues of how it will stay open off-season and in the winter months. Currently, it is only planned for +Pool to stay open 15 weeks out of the year. This raises questions about how the project will fund itself once it is operational. The team is exploring the use of solar panels to heat the pool in cold weather. The pool will need to be protected against storm damage and debris as well.

However, even with these problems, +Pool is forging ahead. Project developers have managed to secure a city-approved spot for the implementation of the project. It finally looks like the +Pool concept is coming to fruition.

Environmental Implications of the Project

New York’s Rivers are heavily polluted from years of industrial activity. Until the 1970s, Global Electric dumped 1.3 million pounds of cancer-causing PCBs into the Hudson River. The East River, where +Pool will be installed, also suffers from problems with historical pollution. Chemicals, fecal bacteria, and human effluence have all contributed to toxic levels of pollution. Even now, despite massive successes in cleanup efforts, 5 billion gallons of waste enter the East River every year.

Many people still swim, indulge in recreational activities, and eat fish caught in the East River. By actively cleaning the surrounding water, PlusPool will contribute in a significant manner to cleanup efforts in the East River. Through innovation, projects like this will make a positive impact on the health of both residents and natural ecosystems.

How Will the Project Effect the Future?

The future of the East River is looking cleaner, thanks to +Pool. Whilst all the damage caused over the course of the city’s existence cannot reasonably be reversed, it will be vastly curtailed. The +Pool project will also provide a new recreational facility on the edge of Manhattan that New Yorkers will be able to take advantage of, hopefully year-round.

Cutting-edge, sustainable engineering solutions like this one that takes advantage of innovation and new materials will undoubtedly be part of the solution to urban issues across the world.

Further Reading and More Information

Jonathan, L (2021) New York City’s environmental progress of the East River amid dolphin sighting [online] thepacepress.org. Available at:https://thepacepress.org/6714/news/new-york-citys-environmental-progress-of-the-east-river-amid-dolphin-siting/

E&T editors (2021) The measure of: +Pool [online] eandt.theiet.org Available at:https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2021/09/the-measure-of-pluspool/

Pluspool.org (2021) What is +Pool? [online] pluspool.org. Available at:https://pluspool.org/pool/design/

Swanson, C (2021) First Look: The Plus Pool’s Official East River Parking Spot [online] curbed.com. Available at:


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Reginald Davey

Written by

Reginald Davey

Reg Davey is a freelance copywriter and editor based in Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Writing for AZoNetwork represents the coming together of various interests and fields he has been interested and involved in over the years, including Microbiology, Biomedical Sciences, and Environmental Science.


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