NYC Will Soon Have World’s First Underground Park

A forgotten slice of New York City will soon be transformed into the world’s first underground park.

James Ramsey, an architectural designer and former NASA satellite engineer, and Dan Barasch, a social media wizard, have teamed up to develop an underground park. And they have even found a way to ensure their underground park will pipe in lots of sunshine too.

The Lowline Lab in NYCThe Lowline Lab in NYC

The duo has chosen to resurrect the Lowline, which is a 107-year-old trolley station that has been abandoned since 1948. The old station, an urban museum in its own right and once known as the Williamsburg Trolley Terminal, is located right below Delancey Street in the center of NYC’s Lower East Side (near the Essex Street Subway Station).

The abandoned Williamsburg Trolley Terminal in 2013.The abandoned Williamsburg Trolley Terminal in 2013.

“In a project with no RFP, no mandate from the city, no clients, just a couple of guys trying to create something incredible, it was important to us that we embrace a sort of bottom-up approach,” explains Ramsey.

NYC is known for having the least amount of green space compared to other cities around the world. The city’s Lower East Side has barely any green space at all, and the Lowline will bring a new public space that no one has ever seen before.

Yes, this is an urban design project will certainly go down in history.

So, How Do You Build An Underground Park?

The Lowline team is developing new solar technology in order to make their project a reality and re-invigorate the historic one-acre facility down below.

Cutting-edge sun portals will be utilized in making the Lowline Lab, as it is formally called.

“These devices will track the sun throughout the sky every minute of every day, optimizing the amount of natural sunlight we can capture,” writes the team. “These will be connected to a tube-based distribution system and 40-foot-wide canopy inside the warehouse, to help reflect natural sunlight into the Lowline Lab.”

The sunlight down below of course will help grow grass, trees and plants of sorts. The space will be designed with stone walkways and small ponds.

Unlocking The Potential Of Abandoned Underground Spaces

Ove the next two years Ramsay and Barasch, along with their entire team, will be testing out the new facility before opening it to the public.

"My dream is to build the world's first underground park in New York City," says Barasch. “My generation is focused on reclaiming the spaces we already have, rediscovering our shared history, and reimagining how we can make our communities more interesting, more beautiful, and more just.”

So, how much will this project actually cost? According to the architectural design firm Arup, who are working with the Lowline Lab team, the price tag will be around $72-million (USD).

The Lowline Lab is getting lots of backing from inventors and of course through crowdfunding sources, so money does not seem to be an issue.

“This (project) is meant to make the point in a very real way that this is something that’s worthwhile and worth investing in,” adds Barasch. “Worst case scenario, this is one of the most expensive but one of the coolest art projects the city’s ever seen. Best case scenario, it really helps to seal the deal in making sure the city moves forward with this.”

Utilizing underground spaces is becoming a popular topic these days all around the world. Gensler, a popular design firm, is proposing to reinvent the old tube tunnels in London and turn them into a unique network of paved paths where cyclists and pedestrians can get around much more easily.

The Lowline Lab is expected to open in 2018.