Lowline, the company responsible for the Underground Park plans to use solar technology to illuminate a historic trolley terminal. The park will be located on the Lower East Side of New York City, providing a beautiful cultural attraction for one of the world’s most dense urban environments.
The site for the Underground Park will be located in the one-acre former Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal. It was originally opened in 1908 to trolley passengers. The trolley terminal has been abandoned since 1948 however due to trolley service being discontinued.
The Technology Behind it All:
The solar technology James Ramsey of Raad Studio designed involves a “remote skylight” for the park. It works by passing sunlight through a glass shield above the parabolic collector that reflects and gathers the energy at one focal point.
The sunlight is then transmitted onto a reflective surface underground on a distributor dish. This transmits the sunlight into the space. This technology could then transmit the necessary wavelengths of light to support the photosynthesis process in the plants growing in the park.
Why an Underground Park?
Lowline’s goal is to build a different kind of public space. One that keeps the historic highlights of a former trolley terminal while at the same time introducing new solar technology that gives the plants the ability to grow underground.
HR&A Advisors, a leading real estate developer and energy-efficient consulting firm said that the underground park could vastly improve the local economy and transit hub near by.
Lowline hopes to display how technology can be transformed in the 21st century while drawing the community together in the design itself and help empower a new generation of Lower East Siders to help build a new and unique spot for their dense urban environment.
Lowline has released a timeline of preliminary steps they’ve taken as well as when they think the park might be finished.
In September of 2012 Lowline stalled a functioning full-scale model of the solar technology and green park in an abandoned warehouse right above the site the real park will be built on. The exhibit was visited by an astounding 11,000 people in the span of just 2 weeks! They did this to prove the concept of their ambitious project.
April 2013 marks when Lowline conducted its first in-school program with a local high school. This was designed to engage young people in their process to build the underground park and had students help design future uses of the park.
In the summer of 2013 9 different elected officials sent a letter to the city showing their support for the underground park project from Lowline and encouraged the city to help in it’s progress.
Fall of 2013 is where Lowline conducted a semester long “Young Designers Program” with Henry Street Settlement (Boys & Girls Republic) Educational Alliance (SPARC Program) and University Settlement (Beacon Program).
Spring of 2014 is when the month long exhibit of the “Young Designers” work at the Mark Miller Gallery began.
In March of 2015 Lowline held the “Shaping the Lowline” exhibit. This is where work from the newest class of Young Designers were displayed. The community is invited to provide greater input at these kinds of events.
October 2015 – March 2016 the Lowline Lab opens. The lab is a free community gathering space that displays the solar technology for the underground park. It serves as a kind of laboratory for lighting and horticulture experiments. It features multiple cultural and community events with more than 45,000 people visiting the lab since it opened.
March 2016 – March 2017 The Lowline Lab gets a year-long extension from the City. Lowline hopes that The Lab will help showcase the innovative solar technology and the potential of a new, year-round public space.
2015-2017 is when Lowline aims to complete negotiations with the MTA and the City to build the underground park. If they succeed and negotiations are finalized, a capital campaign in support of the construction will be launched.
2020 is when it’s estimated that the underground park will be open for everyone to enjoy year in, and year out.