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Imagining the Lowline Inside an Empty LES Warehouse

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When the Lowline team announced they'd be creating a full-scale model of the underground park in an empty warehouse at the Essex Street Market, we imagined a full-on simulation: tons of trees and greenery with light flooding the space from the mindboggling fiber optic system they were creating. Well, the exhibit opened to the press today, and it's not as cool as we hoped. Perhaps it was overly optimistic of us to think they'd be filling this warehouse with a park, but the model only takes up a small portion of the space. A little green oasis planted with one small tree sits under the 35-foot tessellated sunlight canopy. The windows and skylights have been blacked out, and the canopy's solar collector directs sun onto a reflector that spreads the light over the lazer-cut hexagon panels. Mushrooms will be sprouting from the mossy ground any day now.

While not as impressive as we imagined, the installation is meant to more thoroughly introduce the park to the public. Plus, it is pretty cool. The oasis is at the end of the warehouse, and, to build suspense, visitors have to walk through a dark area lined with black curtains to get to the demonstration. The technology is not the same that will be used in the actual Lowline, nor are the plants the same, as the warehouse is not below ground (duh). But the canopy and level of light are reflective of the actual park. Co-founder James Ramsey notes that the Lowline will never be as bright as actual daylight, no matter how much sunlight is piped in, but the demonstration is a great example of how bright they can make a subterranean space.

The first part of the warehouse is filled with "Experiments in Motion," a research project partnership from Columbia University's architecture school and Audi of America. The exhibit features a 50-foot long model of Manhattan's subway lines and stations, suspended from the ceiling, so visitors can walk under it. This part of the exhibit aims to examine new ideas of urban mobility and how we're supposed to cram 9.1 million people into this city by 2030. The Atlantic delves into the details of this research here.

In the next week, the Lowline team will be releasing the results of their feasibility study, which will include how much they think the park will cost and what their next steps will be. Expect a lot more fundraising and political outreach.

The installation will be up through September 27.
· Lowline coverage [Curbed]
· Imaging the Lowline [official]
· Ideas for Cramming 1 Million More People Into New York City [Atlantic Cities]