Recap: Imagining the Lowline / Barasch + Ramsey

Recap: Imagining the Lowline / Barasch + Ramsey
© K.Cilento

As the “Imagining the Lowlineexhibition 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. 

The expansive underground space Barasch and Ramsey wish to tackle used to function as turn-around point for trolleys crossing the Williamsburg Bridge, but has been untouched since around the 1950s.  The exhibition display offered a detailed history of the site before leading visitors to a full-scale mockup of a “underground” landscape.

© K.Cilento

It was shocking to turn the corner and see so much light cascading upon a mound of forest-like plants.  Unlike the flowery foliage of its above ground counterparts, the Lowline landscape immediately identified with its unique subterrain positioning.  The landscape included lots of moss and ferns, with low lying foliage.  One visitor commented on the great mix of smells saying the mix of the hard materials, such as concrete, and the different smells of the ferns added to her experience.

Of course, people stood in awe examining the light dispersing parametric roof.  Aside from its amazing innovative approach to disperse light collected above ground to these plants, the shear aesthetic of the form was a real thing of beauty.

© K.Cilento

While the underground park has generated lots of debate, the general feelings of those attending the exhibition were positive and full of excitement.  And, although the space was a bit humid, people stopped to share a small snack on chairs scattered around the landscape or share a quite conversation while snapping pictures of the roof assemblage.

We spoke with history buffs who loved the novelty of the park, and computer programmers who felt this park would allow them to connect with nature all year round, noting that it’d be “So awesome in the winter!”   A local architect inquired as to the access points for the park, as such marks would need to be extra dramatic as a way to entice people to explore the underground.  Others were fixated on the fact that so much of the project would be developed locally – such as the panel system for the roof – and having more people in the area would help local businesses.   Overall, visitors were excited by the vision and regarded the park as having the potential to be a unique destination point in the city, while making a positive influence on the local community.

© K.Cilento

Did you attend the exhibit? Let us know what you thought in the comments below! And, be sure to check out our previous coverage of the Lowline and we’ll keep you updated on the progress.

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Cite: Karen Cilento. "Recap: Imagining the Lowline / Barasch + Ramsey" 29 Sep 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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