Wanted: Good Ideas

Snow had freshly blanketed the city’s streets for the first time in two years when the Center for Architecture convened a public discussion about pools. Hardly the ideal confluence of weather conditions and subject matter. Unless, of course, you’re Robert Hammond, a cofounder of the Friends of the High Line, the nonprofit that galvanized the creation of the mostly annoying elevated park. As president of Therme Group’s US division, he hopes to bring for-profit thermae and balneae to urban centers across the country, from “global gateways” like New York to “lifestyle cities” like Nashville (his words). But for the moment, none exist stateside.

Hammond was merely the most talkative panelist in an event that was, in fact, pegged to the release of Chris Romer-Lee’s new monograph, Sea Pools: 66 Saltwater Sanctuaries from Around the World (Batsford). The London-based architect spoke of the British fondness for lidos, which are built into shores in and around villages and filled with sea overflow. “I like to think of them like the pub, or the park, just a place to meet up,” …

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