What Happened to Manhattan’s Lowline Project?

Courtesy of James Ramsey and

In 2011, the Tribeca-based design duo of James Ramsey and Dan Barasch proposed a radical project to transform an abandoned subterranean trolley terminal in Manhattan‘s Lower East Side into an underground park filled with natural light and vegetation, eventually proving their design with a full size mock-up of their design for light-capturing fiber-optic tubes. Since then, they haven’t had nearly the same level of publicity – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still working. This article by The Architects’ Newspaper catches up with Ramsey and Barasch as they attempt to make their $50 million project a reality by 2018. Read the full article here.

Recap: Imagining the Lowline / Barasch + Ramsey

© K.Cilento

As the “Imagining the exhibition comes to a close, we share a recap of our visit to the full-scale mockup created by Dan Barasch and James Ramsey.  We have been sharing a steady stream of updates on the project, but nothing quite puts the ideas of this transformative ”urban discovery” into perspective as the ability to experience a portion of their underground public park.   The two-week long exhibit in Market Building D in the Lower East Side was aimed at sharing the ideas of the Lowline with the community to hear feedback and gain support to potentially move the project forward.  During our visit, we had the opportunity to speak with visitors of all different professions, backgrounds and connections to New York, to hear their first impressions of the project and to see if their support lay behind such an idea.

More after the break. 

Imagining the Lowline

Courtesy of James Ramsey and Dan Barasch

Mark your calendars – the Lowline is going public! After a great gallery exhibition and tons of international support, the  founders are launching a public exhibition to showcase their innovative technological approach to creating the world’s first underground park on the Lower East Side of City. The full scale exhibition will take place in the Essex Market Building D, an abandoned warehouse just above the proposed Lowline Park, from September 15-27.

More after the break.

Disruptive minds: James Ramsey, designer of the Low Line

Renderings of the Low Line by Raad Studio. Courtesy of and Dan Barasch

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Usually when one studies architecture, one does architecture. But that’s just not enough for some people. James Ramsey, most famous for the sci-fi-like renderings of the Low Line, an underground park which has captured the imagination of thousands, is one of those people. An architecture grad from Yale University, Ramsey went on to be a satellite engineer for NASA, before coming back to architecture and starting up his own design studio, Raad Studio. Oh yeah, and along the way he came up with a fiberoptic technology that would allow you to bring natural light (and thus grow plants) underground.

Read the full interview after the break

Journey to the Center of New York: Can Design “Cure” Our Cities?

Plans for the Delancey Underground, an underground park made possible by fiberoptic technology. Photo courtesy of and Dan Barasch

Walk into the cafeteria at the Googleplex and you are nudged into the “right” choice. Sweets? Color-coded red and placed on the bottom shelf to make them just a bit harder to reach. “Instead of that chocolate bar, sir, wouldn’t you much rather consume this oh-so-conveniently-located apple? It’s good for you! Look, we labelled it !” [1]

Like the Google cafeteria guides you to take responsibility of your health, Google wants to transform the construction industry to take responsibility of the “health” of its buildings. They have been leveraging for transparency in the content of building materials, so that, like consumers who read what’s in a Snickers bar before eating it, they’ll know the “ingredients” of materials to choose the greenest, what they call “healthiest,” options.[2]

These examples illustrate the trend of “medicalization” in our increasingly health-obsessed society: when ordinary problems (such as construction, productivity, etc.) are defined and understood in medical terms. In their book Imperfect Health, Borasi and Zardini argue that through this process, architecture and design has been mistakenly burdened with the normalizing, moralistic function of “curing” the human body. [3]

While I find the idea that design should “force” healthiness somewhat paternalistic and ultimately limited, I don’t think this “medicalized” language is all bad – especially if we can use it in new and revitalizing ways. Allow me to prescribe two examples: the most popular and the (potentially) most ambitious urban renewal projects in New York City today, the High Line and the Delancey Underground (or the Low Line).

More on “curative” spaces after the break. (Trust me, it’s good for you.)

UPDATE: Delancey Underground a.k.a “LowLine” Launches KickStarter Campaign

Courtesy of James Ramsey and Dan Barasch

By now you’ve probably already heard and read about James Ramsey and Dan Barasch’s radical proposal to bring an underground park to the Lower East Side via Essex Street Trolley Terminal below Delancey Street.  What you may not know is that the , as it has become known, has just launched a KickStarter Campaign with a goal of raising $100,000 by April 6th. Here you can pledge money and receive prizes for your donations if funding succeeds.  The masterminds behind the projects are not slowing down.  Conversations about this project and its possibilities are spreading.  Just last week, the Tenement Museum invited Ramsey and Barasch, along with historian Stuart Blumin to discuss the project and some of its social and political consequences.

City Talk discusses the High Line and Delancey Underground

Professor Doug Muzzio of City Talk sits down with Joshua David and Robert Hammond, co-founders of Friends of the , and , co-founder of the Delancey Underground. The conversation focuses on the latest plans for the third and last section of the High Line and the potential of the subterranean public park proposal below Delancey Street. Muzzio states, “Ones a great West Side story, the other could be a great East Side story.” City Talk is known to discuss the important issues of New York City with the people who help the city function. Professor Doug Muzzio is a political analyst for CUNY TV and a professor at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs.

Delancey Underground a.k.a “The Low Line”

Courtesy of James Ramsey and

As the Highline has everyone looking up, James Ramsey and Dan Barasch are asking people to start looking down. James Ramsey’s vision to transform the abandoned Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal into a subterranean park filled with sunlight and lush vegetation is gaining international attention and support. The satellite engineer turned architect has developed a skylight using fiber-optic technology that will naturally light and bring life to this forgotten, graffiti-covered cavity below the streets of City.

Continue reading for more information, video and exclusive statements from Ramsey and Barasch.