How Low Can You Go?

This park goes so low that it’s underground. The Delancey Project, more widely known as the Lowline, is an idea conceived by Dan Barasch and James Ramsey to convert an out-of -service subterranean trolley terminal into green space. In an established city like New York, a huge plot of green is hard to come by and this terminal offers approximately 60,000 sq. feet (that’s slightly bigger than a football field). I keep using the word green, but that isn’t the color you would normally associate with the word underground, probably more along the lines of  gray, brown, or black. That’s what’s so genius about this project. Dan and James have developed a way to bring sunlight into the space that allows for plant growth and  no it’s not a skylight.

Their idea actually reminds me of  two tin cans and a string. It’s two dish-like solar collectors connected by a fiber optic cable. One collector is above ground that gathers sunlight, concentrates it, and then reflects it via the optic cable. The light is then emitted from the other collector below ground. The light waves which are distributed do not include harmful UV rays, but support photosynthesis. They’ve already built a working prototype.

Actually, you may have already heard of the Lowline. From the time of the idea’s conception Dan and James have gotten positive support from the city, local businesses, and it’s citizens. They launched a campaign on kickstarter to raise $100,000 to build a full scale mock-up in an abandoned warehouse and they reached their mark in little over a week. Now they’ve raised the bar even higher. Here’s what they intend to do with more donations:

100k: (DONE): they can build a September tech demo
150k: they can keep the demo up as long as possible, to enable more community engagement
200k: they build the September demo AND conduct 1 of 4 engineering studies for the full-scale park
300k: they build the September demo AND complete all 4 engineering studies for the full-scale park

If this is a cause you may be interested in supporting, visit their kickstarter page. Donations are open until Friday, April 6th, 2012.

“The Delancey Underground project envisions a year-round programming series, which invites the community into the space in new ways. From art exhibitions, to farmers’ markets, to educational series, to special events and promotions– this space will be more than a space. It will generate community, and it will inspire in the way beautiful environments can inspire.”

Leave a comment


  1. This is so very cool. I have always been interested in abandoned underground spaces (ever since I worked for a few years in a salt mine in Kansas) and this is one of the best ideas I’ve seen.

    • I’m really excited for them. They’ve reached their goal of $150,00. I can’t wait to see updates on the demo.


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