Remember the floating pool that garnered a boatful of attention when it was proposed by some friends way back in 2011? Since then it has become one of those things things, like the Lowline, draws inevitable responses of: “Oh yeaaah, whatever happened to that?” Turns out the folks at +Pool are still trying to make their dream of swimming in the East River a reality, and now they’ve got the support of not just Neil Patrick Harris but also Heineken, the same folks who got behind James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem’s quixotic quest to symphonize the subway turnstiles. Together, they’ve all released a new mini doc and VR promo, with Harris as narrator, that allows you to plunge into a virtual version of the plus-shaped pool.
The film, produced by Tribeca Studios and Greenpoint-based m ss ng p eces, debuted at a waterfront party last night, DJed by James Murphy’s labelmates Museum of Love. All around Pier 15’s Watermark Bar, on the railings facing the East River, were cheeky signs saying “NO SWIMMING– YET.” Though the founders of the pool say they’ve taken over 1,000 meetings with various city agencies and potential stakeholders, it’ll be a good while before it becomes a reality, if it ever does– according to a FAQ on the project’s newly launched website, “Once the city offers us a site to install, we’ll make our final, site-specific detailed design documents and begin the long and arduous process of getting the required city and state approvals.” As you can see by watching the documentary, even the project’s high-profile boosters, such as High Line co-founder Joshua David (aka “the Oracle”), have acknowledged that it’s a ways off.
Of course, renderings of +Pool have been floating around for years, so you won’t learn all that much new from watching the doc– but it does feature some pretty neat archival photos of the “floating baths” that existed in the East River until the ’40s. And, if you have Google Cardboard or some such, the VR video lets you plunge into the water and look up toward the skyline, which is pretty cool. In these renderings, there are only a handful of people lounging around the pool, which makes it seem not all that much larger than, say, the rooftop one that just opened in Long Island City. But the video assures us that the pool could hold up to 2,800 people while it filters over 600,000 gallons of river water daily.
The videos are intended to “generate grassroots excitement” about the project, and in this case signing the online petition will actually make a difference. Heineken has agreed to contribute $100,000 to the project’s development once this site receives 100,000 pledges of “I will swim in the river.” Okay, but will the pool have a swim-up bar?