Fast Company staff writer Ben Schiller reports that the Lowline, New York's first underground park project, has slowly begun to transition from concept to reality.
The Lowline is inspired by its older sibling, the High Line walkway, which is a bustling landscaped pedestrian corridor that runs 1.45 miles along a disused portion of the West Side Rail Line. In contrast, the Lowline takes the concept underground by proposing a grittier green space that occupies a disused trolley station and collects solar rays.
The project, which still faces the hurdle of receiving funding and permission from the space's owners, New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, hopes to gain support through the Lowline Lab— its "taster" exhibit on Essex Street.
The Lab, which is about 5% of the size of theactual space, features hundreds of plants and the same innovative system that will be used to bring natural light underground from the street above. That includes three solar collectors on ground level, each programmed by computer to track the sun's rays. The light is collected into tubes, fed underground, and then dispersed by an elegant roofing panel designed by the Raad Studio, Arup, an engineering firm, and Lorne Whitehead, a physics professor at the University of British Columbia.