Making a Splash
One enchanted evening long ago, when I was a younger man-and only marginally employed-I spied a tangle of broken office furniture in a Dumpster not far from Grand Central Terminal...
Craig Kellogg -- Interior Design, 9/1/2010 1:07:00 PM
One enchanted evening long ago, when I was a younger man-and only marginally employed-I spied a tangle of broken office furniture in a Dumpster not far from Grand Central Terminal. I dived in to rescue the vinyl-upholstered fiberglass seat of a chair by Charles and Ray Eames and, separately, an aluminum base. The pieces fit together, Frankenstein-like, into a surprisingly presentable piece of furniture that still resides in my spare room.
Dumpsters are containers for urban hopes and dreams. So why not a swimming pool on a summer Saturday morning? So reasoned builder and real-estate developer David Belt, executive director and founder of Macro-Sea. Having pioneered the Dumpster pool in the industrial Gowanus section of Brooklyn, he was invited by the Department of Transportation to bring the idea to Manhattan as part of the Summer Streets festival, when Park Avenue is closed to car traffic. As a developer, he knew just the Midtown location to choose: along the viaduct south of Grand Central.
Visitors to what he terms his "lo-fi country club" were allowed on the surrounding pavement for an hour-which translated into a lot of women in bikinis reclining in orange chaise longues, reading the latest Nick Hornby or the September Vogue. The DoT's director of strategic communications, Dani Simons, recalls a young mother who glanced at the scene with "Christmas morning delight, like Santa brought everything she'd ever asked for."
The 20-minute swim sessions took place in three brand-new Dumpsters. Each was equipped with a drop-leaf perimeter deck and fitted with a vinyl liner about 4 feet deep. Integrated signage proclaimed, "No diving."
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