New York City’s LowLine Park hit a high point recently with the realization of its Kickstarter dreams. Dan Barasch and James Ramsey, the visionaries behind the underground park being considered for New York City, easily surpassed their goal of raising $100,000 for the first phase of the project, a full-scale installation, or “mini LowLine” designed to show investors (and people in general) that the park is feasible.
Last month we reported that the park—officially known as Delancey Underground, but nicknamed LowLine Park (a play on the city’s HighLine Park, built entirely on a repurposed elevated rail line)—has been envisioned as a thriving center of cultural diversity and invention in the heart of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The plan calls for time-stamped architectural details like cobblestone streets, vaulted 20-foot ceilings supported on steel columns and intersecting trolley tracks over 1.5 acres (60,000 square feet), which would be illuminated via a unique system of solar technology and optics.
The optics would work to gather sunlight, concentrate it, and reflect it below ground, where light would then be dispersed by a solar distributor dish embedded in the ceiling of the space. According to the park’s designers, the light “irrigated” underground will carry the necessary wavelengths to support photosynthesis for plants, trees, and grasses, but, conveniently, not the ones that cause skin cancer. They see it not only as a means to take advantage of a whole lot of underground real estate for the public good, but an ideal location for year-round farmers markets, art installations and concerts.
The idea of turning this massive and unused former trolley terminal beneath the Lower East Side into a park, using fiber optics, has apparently gotten a lot of people excited, including the state-run Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), which owns the site. Barasch and Ramsey report the MTA being receptive to the idea, and eager to turn the space into something new. Many of the verbal approvals, from neighborhood business and community groups, and elected officials, have also been given—so now, it’s on to the prototype, which will be necessary to secure investors.