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Abandoned pool? Create an EcoBeastie.


What's a community to do with an abandoned pool ?
 
That was the challenge for the Leslie Park Pool Collective (LLPC) in Lawrenceville looking to reconceive the space for the abandoned pool site. Seeking help, they contacted the Urban Design Build Studio at Carnegie Mellon.  In the fall of 2010, the two groups started working together on ideas and framework for a project with a design process focused on community. The ultimate request was for a lower maintenance, interactive design to be used day and night, 365 days a year, using LED lighting.
 
The result is a self-sustaining spray pool with LED lighting known as the Puriflume Splash Pad Play Space--otherwise known as EcoBeastie.
 
“Because pool infrastructure is difficult to maintain, the city of Pittsburgh and other post industrial municipalities have been looking to alternative recreational facilities that offer relief from heat but don’t require substantial resources to maintain,” says John Folan, director of UDBS.
 
After various community and stakeholder meetings,  it became clear that a spray park was the most viable option for the Leslie Park Pool. Proposals for the space focused on passive closed-loop water treatment systems.
 
What they came up with--EcoBeastie--is capable of many things, thanks to the help from 11 CMU students who were selected to work on the project under Folan’s direction. Final plans incorporated everything from a water harvesting system and slow sand filtration beds to ultra-violet sterilization so that all water from the spray park can be captured from rainfall, treated on site, and never leave the site, says Folan. 
 
That's crucial because pollution problems are often associated with structures that have excess water, over-flowing sewers and contaminating spaces. Not in EcoBeastie!
 
The venture was funded by multiple grants from the Ford Motor Company, the Alllegheny County Department of Economic Development, and AutoDesk, as well as private donors. 
 
The aesthetics of the 14-foot long mechanism, mounted on a trailer for mobility, are “open to the imagination of the individual,” Folan says of the inventive and grand blue and orange structure.  It is designed so onlookers can interpret the project as they see fit, encouraging creativity.
 
The unveiling of the creation took place last Thursday at Carnegie Mellon and it will be traveling to various spots around Pittsburgh.  The next chance to see it will be on August third and fourth at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
 
Writer: Emily Shields, Pop City intern
Source: John Folan, Urban Design Build Studio
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