Carnegie Mellon University
July 13, 2012

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon Urban Design Build Studio Partners with Ford To Unleash PURIFLUME Mobile Water Filtration System July 18

Fun, Educational Unit Addresses Water Conservation, Sustainability

Contact: Pam Wigley / 412-268-1047 /

PuriflumePITTSBURGH—A new student project offers filtered fun for city neighborhoods.

PURIFLUME, a mobile water system with spray park features, not only provides a way to cool off during Pittsburgh's record summer heat but also is being viewed by city officials interested in its potential in conserving and filtering water.

The PURIFLUME will be unveiled at 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 18 in Carnegie Mellon University's University Center Parking Lot before starting a city tour. Representatives from the Ford Motor Company Fund, Allegheny County's Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund (CITF), AutoDesk and Baker Engineering, as well as Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, and the student creative team, will be on hand.

The PURIFLUME concept won Ford's Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3), a national challenge grant competition that recognizes colleges and universities that utilize a school's resources and capacity to address an urgent, unmet social need or problem in the local community.

Reminiscent of a giant dinosaur skeleton painted bright orange and blue, the PURIFLUME features elements commonly found in a municipal spray park such as a water slide and jet sprays. It was designed and built by a group of students under the direction of Professor John Folan in the Urban Design Build Studio (UDBS) at Carnegie Mellon's School of Architecture. The UDBS used advanced digital simulation, representation and fabrication technologies to bring the project to life.

The water structure should provide welcome relief to residents of many of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods by offering a sustainable alternative to pools that can be resource intensive to maintain. Nicknamed the "Eco-Beastie," the huge neon-colored unit is a mobile closed-loop water filtration system. Explanations of how the system works are posted on the unit, and its creators hope children and parents will absorb the information while having fun.

"I'm extremely proud of what the students have accomplished," Folan said. "It has demanded an incredible level of dedication and commitment from them, and the reward of seeing Pittsburgh's communities potentially benefiting from the project has been their primary motivation."

The PURIFLUME project began in response to the UDBS students' work on the Leslie Park Pool master plan in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Lawrenceville beginning in fall 2010. Working in collaboration with the Leslie Park Pool Collective, the UDBS developed a sustainable spray park proposal for the decommissioned Leslie Park Pool that would use environmentally friendly spray park equipment and Pennsylvania's first closed-loop passive water filtration system. As a result, funding and local support emerged to create a mobile prototype of the proposed sustainable water filtration system. Funding was provided by Allegheny County's (CITF), AutoDesk and Ford C3. Michael Baker Corporation assisted with in-kind engineering service throughout the development of the project.

Ford C3 requires colleges to create project proposals with significant student input, involvement and leadership from beginning to end, said Mike Schmidt, director of Education and Community Development at Ford. Proposals must address the theme of the Challenge - Building Sustainable Communities - in some unique and innovative way. Up to five Ford C3 awards are made each year.

"Winning proposals have a distinctive student perspective on what it means to have a sustainable community," Schmidt said. "Each year, we select five winning proposals to receive this one-time award. The CMU proposal stood out because of its innovative approach to educating the public about issues involving sustainability and water."