blog

The "Low-Line," an underground park for NYC

Okay, I’ll admit it. Whenever someone from out of town starts asking me about the Highline and whether or not it’s really as cool as it looks, I feel very proud to live in New York. Because yes, it’s exactly as cool as it looks (actually, it’s cooler, because they sell gourmet popsicles now, and I love me some popsicles), and it’s pretty neat to live in a place that would invest millions of dollars in a beautifully designed piece of urban revitalization. I mean, just look at it: it’s a park suspended over New York City. The future is now!

But I think I could muster the same sentimental ardor for the “Low-Line,” a project that would turn an abandoned stretch of subway track on the Lower East Side into an underground park. Now, you’re probably wondering: how would the grass grow and the trees flourish hundreds of feet underground? To address this obvious problem, architect James Ramsay (of the RAAD architecture firm) submitted a design that includes an advanced fiber-optic lighting system, bouncing natural light from above ground into the space via a network of mirrors and solar panels. As a health-friendly bonus, the lighting units would also filter out any harmful UV rays, so park-goers could soak up the subterranean sun without fear of skin damage.

Of course, a few concerns still need to be addressed, like the problem of air circulation or hazardous asbestos underground, or whether enough solar energy would be generated during the darker winter months to keep the park thriving. But if Ramsay and his team can come up with solutions I’m all for an underground oasis, especially one that I could enjoy in the dead of winter when it’s hard to remember what grass is supposed to look like.