When plans for New York’s ‘Delancey Underground’ were first announced, green building experts and laypersons alike were blown away by its innovation and uniqueness.
Designed by architect James Ramsey of RADD designs and Dan Barasch of PopTech, the concept, coined the ‘LowLine’ by New Yorkers, outlaid the possibility of developing a subterranean community space in the two acres of wasted underground space that was formerly an abandoned trolley terminal.
Juxtaposed with New York’s world famous High Line, the LowLine offers to create an underground sanctuary for New Yorkers while making the most of green technologies.
As is the case with many highly innovative, highly sustainable design concepts, however, some cynical industry members have expressed doubts over whether this seemingly incredible concept could come to fruition. How, they asked, could a parkland space flourish underground?
It was made possible through the use of highly innovative green technologies, as the LowLine has broken new ground in green building. It has taken a giant leap towards development with both Community Board 3 approval and the unveiling of the ‘Imagining the Lowline exhibition.’
Developed in order to garner community support and create technological understanding to help bring the community space concept to reality, the recently opened exhibition features a full-sized working installation of a portion of the planned space.
Developed by the LowLine team in association with HR&A and Arup, the exhibition showcases the cutting edge technologies such as the solar canopy, LED lighting system, fiber optic cables and other elements that show how this outside the box concept will work.
In addition to showcasing the technological and functional aspects of the space, greenery including lilies, turf, fungi and moss have also been implemented under the instruction of environmental designer Misty Gonzales in order to better communicate the completed vision of the parkland space to visitors. The plants have been chosen for their adaptive abilities, which allow them to survive and thrive without abundant light.
While the New York community and industry are known for their quick uptake of green building concepts and industry innovation, communicating a project of this nature does have its challenges.
With funding reliant on community and government support, the development’s success rests on strong community awareness. While there have been concerns over the area becoming gentrified due to the new community space, the success of the High Line in bringing back a community feel to the fast-paced and often highly industrial city has squashed major doubts.
A $75,000 donation from an anonymous donor has made moving forward with the next major developmental steps possible. The plans, technologies and industry willingness to create this vision are there. Growing community support is helping to bring this concept into fruition, with many hoping the LowLine will one day stand as a true triumph of outside-the-box green innovation.