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The Lowline NYC

The Lowline NYC

4 Oct 2012

A Future Underground Park In NYC

What does it take to create a new park? The New York’s Lower East Side, an abandoned warehouse and a bunch of creative radicals. The LowLine is an underground park in development, a project to reuse and re-imagine underutilized and forgotten urban spaces.

The LowLine project plans to inspire cities all around the world to use the least visible, unused infrastructure as potential green space, which in this case is a former trolley terminal.

The project is now exhibiting the underground park prototype, free and open to the public until the end of this month. Called A First Glimpse Of A Future Underground, the show sure seems to looks like that, an idea into what a new, green type of landscape could be.

Designed by Edward Jacobs (designer for Confederate Motorcycles, a custom-bike company based in Birmingham, Alabama), and Brandt Graves (formerly of New York–based design studio SOFTlab) the structure of the exhibition is an exercise in bringing a design sensibility to NASA space telescope technology. It culminated in brute strength, as the assembly was hoisted to the ceiling to look like it’s levitating. The exhibit is essentially a sample of what all the LowLine parks would eventually look like in the future: a subterranean, dreamlike space in the middle of the city.

The structure exists out a network of tubes that bring sunlight where there was none before. “With the solar technology of today we have the chance to make use of space which wasn’t possible by horticultural standards before,” says Misty Gonzalez, the lead environmental designer for the project. “A lot of space exists that we don’t use well enough. We don’t need more or new.”

The team members emphasize the idea of a forest floor: “It’s like you’re walking in the forest, and you turn a corner and see a fallen tree illuminated in a shaft of light,” James analogizes. It’s that element of the unexpected that James hoped visitors to the exhibit opening last Saturday would experience. “People will turn a dark corner, be confronted with this, and just be taken aback by the magic.”

The LowLine has more exhibits, fundraisers, events, and outreach planned. Constantly engaging their stakeholders, they will be submitting a formal proposal for the former trolley site as early as next year. In the meantime, more designs, more work.