Designed by artist J. Meejin Yoon and her associates at Howeler+Yoon Architecture, FloatLab will be a one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art floating classroom and art space on the Tidal Schuylkill River at Bartram’s Garden in partnership with Mural Arts Philadelphia.
Coming in 2021, FloatLab will be located along the Garden’s southern shoreline, parallel to the natural tidal wetlands and historic Lenni Lenape sites. FloatLab’s dramatic, ADA-compliant sloped platform allows visitors to engage directly with the river at eye level: techniques from architectural design, marine engineering, and naval architecture inform a system of eight ballast chambers below the ring-shaped walking surface, which allows FloatLab to remain consistently level and stable even as the tide moves in and out. As a lens by which to explore the river, the higher portion of FloatLab’s loop can accommodate a full classroom visit or an arts audience, while the sloping ramp invites visitors to connect with the river on their own terms and at their own level, whether collecting water samples, taking a plein air painting class, exploring a floating garden or a freshwater mussel bed, or simply contemplating the nuances of a living, tidal river that has sustained thousands of years of human and animal life. Crucially, FloatLab’s innovative ballast system ensures that visitors can always access the river at eye level, provoking personal relationships—or, when necessary, allowing healing—with this storied river.
William Penn Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Mural Arts Philadelphia