New Yorkers Get The Down Low On The LowLine

If you’ve been following EarthTechling for a while, you may remember the LowLine, a proposal for an underground park in the Delancey Underground, an old, unused trolley stop beneath the streets of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This idea is to transform this 60,000 square foot space into a public space complete with greenery, courtesy of solar harvesting and fiberoptic lighting technology that would bring natural daylighting into the space. Following the LowLine’s over-the-top success in raising start-up funds via Kickstarter, a free exhibition entitled “Imagining the Lowline” will open on September 15 in an abandoned warehouse on the Lower East Side.

This exhibition will transform the Essex Street warehouse into a life-size replica of the proposed park, with the main focal point being a 35-foot-wide canopy that incorporates 6 “sunbeamers.” These devices reflect sunlight into a parallel column and then direct it down a highly reflective tube. From there the light is redistributed using lenses installed in the canopy, which sits above a mockup of a park containing plants that can be cultivated in low light conditions.

LowLine Park

image via WNYC / Delancey Underground

While the park has received verbal approvals from elected officials, as well as neighborhood business and community groups, no one was willing to move forward to move forward with the project until they saw the actual technology in action. That tech, in part, has been designed by Arup, the firm that has been working with the architects on the project on the lighting system for the LowLine. The firm reports that the daylight collection system at work in the exhibit — and slated for the LowLine — is the result of months of design, modeling, and testing by its lighting team.

To create a mockup of the underground park within the confines of a warehouse, designers created steel frame that straddles the roof’s skylight to support the aluminum canopy (which is made of over 500 unique laser-cut aluminum pieces) and sunbeamers.

The exhibition also features a 3D immersive “ambisonic” audio installation created by Arup’s acoustic consultants. Twenty-four targeted loudspeakers and four subwoofers play a sound art composition by Arup acoustician Anne Guthrie, who blended the sounds of the city’s subway trains and other typical scenes from around the proposed site. During one of the events to be held in the exhibition (a children’s day for local schools), the installation will be made interactive via an iPad that controls the localizations of various sounds in the composition.

A complete line up of events planned for the exhibition is available online.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.