Remember that classic saying, “once you’ve hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up”? Like the short athletically challenged kid in gym class turned NBA player, places like New York and Chicago (Hi Finn) kind of took that mantra to heart. Not only have cities like these been there, built that, tore it down, and built it again… bigger, somehow, along the way public green space was left in the wind. Instead value was placed on a different shade of green or brownstone… however you choose to look at it. Leaving spaces like Millennium Park and Central Park – no matter how inexplicably concentrated and under programmed the latter is – became highly sought after by the general public.
So… How can we build more green space in our cities?
A team, headed by James Ramsey (Iron Man?) and Dan Barasch (Captain America?), have put forth a solution to the woes of the NYC faithful citizens. Now just as the name might imply, the Lowline project has been described modestly as “The World’s First Underground Park”, but like Lola (for my Marvel’s “Agents of Shield” fans here) it is much more than just another green space for your dog’s bathroom needs.
Expected to be constructed in a historic trolley terminal on the Lower East Side by 2020, the Lowline utilizes a system of “remote skylights” (designed by Iron Man) to not only illuminate the terminal but more importantly provide enough sunlight to allow plants and trees to grow naturally. The possibility of being able to grow fruits and vegetables, which under similar conditions wouldn’t survive, is a future application that is also currently being explored by the project team. Now, groundscrapers or entire underground cities seem less likely to be awed at in the next science-fiction movie, but it’s something that, dare I say, should be expected dammit – still waiting on my hover board Mr. McFly.
In the end, projects like the Lowline, the Highline, BIG’s Dryline, and Drake’s Hotline (just making sure you’re still with me) show that cities as condensed and architectural as New York, must continue to find innovative ways of addressing the future needs of urban environments. The Lowline is a perfect example of that continued search for innovation, and the Lowline Lab is a great bottom-up approach to sharing that vision with you, the general public. So citibike your way over to the Lower East Side one of these weekends and get a firsthand look at what could soon become the next great public space. It’s open now until March 2016.