Professor Meejin Yoon has been awarded the 2017 MIT Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism Seed Grant to support her FloatLab project. Sited within the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, FloatLab is an educational platform to study and observe the transforming urban waterway. Professor Yoon will lead an interdisciplinary team of researchers, engineers and environmental scientists to explore how cities like Philadelphia are revitalizing their river fronts and learning from urban river ecologies. The team, in partnership with Bartram’s Garden and Philadelphia Mural Arts will develop the FloatLab platform for environmental monitoring & education. The William Penn Foundation is providing support for the physical construction of this platform, with the LCAU providing support to develop the environmental science programming for the installation. Once installed and accessible, FloatLab will become a platform to change our attitudes and behaviors towards our urban natures.

FloatLab is a platform, a vessel, a lens, and a threshold for the public to experience the Schuylkill river and its ecology. A 75' diameter circular path, designed to be submersible will allow people to walk "into" the river and experience the river from different vantage points, from eye level and from below the surface, observing water quality, water species and engaging in educational projects to confront the evolving environmental health of the urban waterway.  As a programmatic loop, the project combines its educational functions - remediation workshops, educational events, living laboratories on the outdoor classroom- with unexpected visual and physical relationships of the visitor to the water's surface. This shift in perspective in addition to a sound and environmental data visualization component will create a physical space that indexes and measures the invisible properties of the water. As a laboratory within the city, FloatLab brings environmental science, environmental art, and environmental stewardship to a significant urban American waterway.

Image Credit: Courtesy Meejin Yoon