In October 2014, architects Dong-Ping Wong and Oana Stanescu held their first fall benefit in support of their floating swimming pool project, + POOL, at Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York. Located between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, it's also where, in 2010, Wong and Stanescu made initial renderings of the plus sign-shaped pool that filters water from and floats on top of the East River in New York City. Originally announced via Kickstarter crowdfunding in 2011, through renderings, the first-of-its-kind + POOL instantly went viral and had garnered an array of fans. Kanye West, Olympic swimmer Connor Dwyer, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon of Opening Ceremony, and Karen Wong of the New Museum were just some of the big names who attended this first celebration of the project.

A carousel may be an odd place to host a fundraising gala, but not for Wong and Stanescu, who are masters in combining the unexpected—a children’s carousel with well-dressed adults, in this case—and creating memorable spaces. “The gala was the first time that all of the various people we had been talking to came together, in one place,” says Stanescu, who speaks quickly and assertively. At 34 years old, she is charismatic in both her directness and warmth, yet is often found wearing dark colors that complement her wavy, black hair. “There were scientists, professors, politicians, artists, museum directors, cool kids, models, and teachers. The diversity of backgrounds was mind-blowing.”

Since establishing their architecture studio, Family New York, seven years ago, Wong and Stanescu have been bridging the gap between the less accessible design world and mainstream culture. + POOL and its viral, Internet-driven, crowd-sourced reception was early evidence of this. Their work on Kanye West’s Yeezus tour stage in 2013—an enormous, moveable mountain—spread just as far, beyond the entertainment realm, through social media. They have embraced a multidisciplinary approach that is intentionally fun and focused on the emotionally impactful aspects of buildings, homes, and space in general.