Search results for "MTA"

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Pictorial> The new Fulton Center opens in Lower Manhattan
When the new Fulton Center opened this weekend—after seven years of delays and cost overruns that lifted the project’s price tag from $750 million to $1.4 billion—New York City got two things: a modern upgrade to its transportation network and an iconic piece of architecture. With new well-lit concourses, pedestrian tunnels, escalators and elevators, and more intuitive transfer points between nine subway lines, Fulton Center will drastically improve the transit experience for the 300,000 people who pass through it every day. But even with these significant improvements, all anyone is talking about is the center's eye-catching glass oculus and its hyperboloid Sky Reflector-Net installation. Step inside the station, and you'll understand why. The 53-foot-diameter structure was commissioned by the MTA Arts & Design program and created by James Carpenter Associates with Grimshaw Architects, Enclos, TriPyramid Structures, and ARUP. It is comprised of 952 aluminum panels, 224 high-strength rods, 112 tension cables, and 10,000 stainless-steel components that work in tandem to fill the station with natural light. The full effect of the design can only be experienced from within the station—standing across the street from Fulton Center, which appears as a steel and glass headhouse, the oculus and Sky Reflector-Net could be mistaken for a massive vent. The upper floors of the rotunda, which are set directly underneath the oculus, will soon be ringed by shops and restaurants. The 66,000 square feet of commercial space is connected to the station through a prominent glass elevator that is wrapped in a spiral staircase. But as dramatic as all of these large gestures are, the center is completed with the MTA's standard-issue, black and gray finishes. The handrails, doors, flooring, and even garbage cans are what you would find at any other station. The station's subdued color scheme, though, is broken up slightly with the light blue glass tiles that clad the station’s below-grade corridors. In these subterranean spaces, the choice of tile, and the decision to set overheard fluorescent bulbs at an angle, shows the impact that designers can have when deviating—however slightly—from the norm. Spread throughout the new Fulton Center are over 50 digital screens that make up the MTA’s “largest state-of-the-art digital signage media program.” When AN visited the Fulton Center, some of those screens were quickly switching between video art and ads for Burberry. And then back again. The completion of the Fulton Center also comes with the $59 million renovation of the adjacent, 125-year-old Corbin Building. The refurbished space, which boasts a stately exterior, is incorporated into the circulation of the center. Exiting through the Corbin Building–side exit, you can see the wings of the nearly $4 billion, Calatrava-designed World Trade Center Transit Hub. When that station opens next year, it will connect to the Fulton Center, and quite likely overshadow it. The bulk of the funding for this project ($847 million) came from a Congressional appropriation which was aimed at rebuilding transit networks in Lower Manhattan after September 11. An additional $423 million came from President Obama's stimulus act. The MTA also provided $130 million in funds.              
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Ventilation Vegetation
Designed by AECOM and inspired by Paley Park, 50th Street Commons conceals an MTA ventilation shaft.
Courtesy MTA

A new, 2,400-square-foot pocket park has been wedged within the crowded grid of Midtown, Manhattan. The 50th Street Commons was designed by AECOM and takes its inspiration from the beloved Paley Park just blocks north. A water feature on the back wall defines the space, but the new park is more than a micro oasis. It masks a ventilation system for the MTA’s long-delayed and over-budget East Side Access project. The new access, which will connect the Long Island Rail Road with Grand Central Terminal, is now scheduled for completion in 2022.


“50th Street Commons is our way of giving back to the Midtown Manhattan community, which has endured the inconveniences of construction for a number of years,” said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, the president of MTA Capital Construction, in a statement. “While most of the construction for East Side Access is underground, this is an aspect of the project that will be a visible improvement for everyone in Manhattan.”

Andrew Lavallee, a principal at AECOM, explained that while 50th Street Commons is roughly organized like Paley, the architects took steps to differentiate it from the modernist retreat. “Paley is a piece of sculpture,” he said, “this is a piece of landscape.”


To create a more “voluptuous” feel for the space, AECOM flanked the park’s walls with vines and trellises, and used curved planting boxes to bring landscaped elements into the main space. In total, 22 plant species were incorporated into the narrow park. Paving and seating, made of green and black granite, extend from the sidewalk to the glass waterfall, which changes colors throughout the day. As with Paley, moveable tables and chairs are stationed in front of the water feature.

Creating a public park atop such a significant ventilation system presented a unique, and fairly obvious, challenge for AECOM and the MTA: how to dampen unwanted noise. “We always understood that acoustics were going to be an issue,” said Lavallee in an email, “so we designed the water as a ‘masking’ of the vent noise and ambient street noise rather than competing with it. We were relying on psychological proximity of distraction more than anything else.” The vent is located behind the water feature.

The MTA says it did its part to reduce noise levels as well. The agency used dampers and sound absorbing materials within the facility to stop as much of the sounds as possible from reaching the street level. AECOM started work on the design in 2007 and received the UrbanMerit Award from the New York chapter of the AIA the following year.

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Tuesday> AIANY presents Art & Architecture in the Public Realm
The fields of urban planning and interiors rarely interface with each other except by chance or coincidence. But the AIA New York Interiors and Urban Planning committees are co-sponsoring Art and Architecture in the Public Realm, a discussion next Tuesday, November 4 that will take on the zone between interior and exterior public space. The evening will feature three teams of speakers who all ‘curate’ the discourse between the public and the urban fabric as well as the role that art plays in that—through their curatorial decisions. These include: —Sandra Bloodworth, director of the MTA’s Art in Motion program who will speak with Jamie Carpenter and Vincent Chang, Grimshaw's architects of the soon-to-open Fulton Transit Center. —Susan Chin, director of Design Trust for Public Space, who will discuss her collaboration with Situ Architects on the Heartwalk project in Times Square. —Sara Reisman, director of Percent for Art at the Department of Cultural Affairs, who will talk about her department's projects around the city. I will moderate the panel and hope that, after voting, you will come join the discussion at the AIA Center for Architecture at 526 LaGuardia Place starting at 6:00p.m.
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With deal in place, Citi Bike system set to expand in 2015
It's happening. After years of talks and reports, it's actually, finally, in-paper, happening—Citi Bike is expanding. Tuesday, at the Queensbridge Houses in Queens, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that the system of 6,000 bikes will double by the end of 2017—putting 2,000 more bikes on the streets than initially envisioned when the program was launched. The news comes as Bikeshare Holdings, a private investment company headed by the CEOs of Equinox and Related Companies, acquires Alta Bicycle Share, which oversees Citi Bike, and other bikeshare programs around the world. As the Daily News first reported, former MTA Chairman Jay Walder will serve as Alta's new CEO. Starting next year, a new fleet of blue bikes will arrive in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, and in Long Island City, Queens. As Citi Bike noted on its blog, all of these stations were intended to be part of the program's "initial deployment." Based on a map provided by Citi Bike, the second phase of expansion will include Upper Manhattan, Astoria, Queens, and more Brooklyn neighborhoods. But the system won't just be expanded, it will be entirely overhauled. Anyone who has been on a Citi Bike recently knows why—seats are torn, bikes are broken, docks are out-of-service, and the credit card system is glitchy. To pay for all of this, and to keep the program solvent moving forward, Citi Bike will raise the annual membership fee from $95 a year to $149. The $60 annual membership New York City Housing residents will not change. According to the NYC DOT, Bikeshare Holdings has invested $30 million into the program, the Partnership Fund for New York City pledged $5 million, the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group is lending $15 million for a credit increase, and Citigroup has increased its sponsorship commitment by $70.5 million and has extended it through 2024. (Citi initially paid $41 million for a five-year sponsorship contract). “We believe in Citi Bike’s potential as a fixture of New York City’s public transit system," Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. "It can make our neighborhoods more accessible, help us achieve our sustainability goals, and bridge inequities in our transportation network. To achieve all that, bike share has to be reliable and responsive to community’s needs. Today, after tremendous efforts across our administration, we can say we have the management and the support in place to fulfill that mission."
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Archtober Building of the Day #26> SLO Architecture adds art to Middletown Road Station in the Bronx
Archtober Building of the Day #26 Middletown Road Station Middletown Road & Westchester Avenue, Bronx SLO Architecture The “steel river,” as Alexander Levi of SLO Architecture referred to the Pelham Line #6 train on last weekend's Archtober tour, makes its way north towards Pelham Bay, crossing over four different waterways along its route. These bodies of water are cleaner now than they used to be, due in part to community-based efforts to clear unwanted debris and waste. As a result, plants and animals have returned to the area, and a feeling of pride has returned to the community. To uphold this stewardship and help maintain the waterways, Levi and Amanda Schachter of SLO designed Cross-Bronx Waterway for the Middletown Road Station, commissioned by MTA Arts & Design and chosen through a panel process. Cross-Bronx Waterway shows the evolution of the river cleanup projects. The series of eight stainless-steel panels, fabricated by AMI-Metal, depict birds, fish, boats, bottles, and other living and nonliving inhabitants of the surrounding rivers. The objects float within ribbons of steel, or “water,” assembled in different patterns on each panel. The birds depicted are species recently found along the Bronx River that had not been spotted for years, including herons. Despite signs of improvement, Schachter stressed that there are still objects found in the river that are not meant to be there. By including unwanted objects in the art as well, the architects have created a reminder that community members must continue to care for the natural environment and prevent the rivers from returning to their previous state. Levi and Schachter also wanted to create a sense of being underwater for people waiting for trains on the elevated platforms. Looking at the sculptural panels, subway-riders see the bottom of boats and the underside of birds. From the street, pedestrians looking up see the objects that protrude from the panels from an above-water angle. The architects intentionally changed the sense of view.
Emma Pattiz is Policy Coordinator for the AIA New York Chapter.
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Vice President Biden and Governor Cuomo announce design competition for New York City's airports
If you’re not a fan of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, then LaGuardia Airport really has nothing to offer you. Besides travel-friendly food options like “jalapeño and cheese pretzel dogs" the aging, dirty, sometimes-leaking airport is by all accounts a disaster. Just ask Vice President Joe Biden who once said that if he blindfolded someone and took them to LaGuardia they would think they were in “some third world country.” The Vice President adding, "I'm not joking." A few months after the Veep made that non-joke, he appeared alongside New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to announce design competitions to revamp LaGuardia and JFK, as well as the smaller Republic Airport on Long Island and Stewart Airport in the Hudson Valley. Those competitions will be launched in 30 days and last for 60 days; three finalists will be awarded $500,000. The New York Observer reported that the governor wants to see better retail and restaurant options at the airports (move over Auntie Anne's!), a Long Island Railroad link and ferry connection to LaGuardia, faster rail connections to JFK, and tax-free zones around Republic and Stewart airports. At LaGuardia, at least, the results could possibly look like the totally non-official rendering above. How would any of these changes be funded? That’s a question the governor did not address at the event. According to the Observer, "[Cuomo] did not tell reporters how the cash-strapped state, Port Authority or Metropolitan Transportation Authority would pay for these upgrades, but told reporters all options ‘were on the table,’ including new tolls on bridges.'” Cuomo later told the New York Times that designs had to be selected before financing could be secured, and he deflected criticism that his competition would get in the way of the Port Authority's multi-billion-dollar plan to overhaul LaGuardia's main terminal. There's no word yet on who will oversee that project, or what it will entail, but the Port Authority's very announcement of its plans earlier this year led to the exciting, but entirely unsolicited, completely non-official rendering at top.
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Archtober Building of the Day #12> The Pavilion at Brookfield Place
Archtober Building of the Day #12 The Pavilion at Brookfield Place 100 West Street Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects It is impossible not to notice The Pavilion at Brookfield Place from almost any viewpoint near it’s location on 100 West Street. A glass curtain wall seems barely to contain the steel trees that emerge from its floor. While our Archtober tour was conducted under the noonday sun, one can easily imagine the building’s brilliance after nightfall. Our tour leader was Craig Copeland, an Associate Partner in the New York studio of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, and the Design Team Leader of the Pavilion at Brookfield Place. He explained that after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the World Trade Center and World Financial Center (now the Pavilion at Brookfield Place) were left disconnected. The Pavilion now reconnects Battery Park City’s Winter Garden, the newly completed World Trade Center Concourse, and both MTA and PATH transportation hubs. And, as the complex’s front door, the Pavilion will create a welcoming pedestrian space out of a former vehicular-only zone. But, let’s get back to those incredible steel trees. In order to create them, the firm looked to “nature and trees in particular,” and as a result, created two 54-foot-tall basket-like woven steel beams which take up very little space on the ground but slowly spread as they reach for, and eventually encompass, most of the ceiling. These beautiful and unique columns solve both an aesthetic and structural solution. Precariously positioned at the edge of the Hudson River, an initial building design of four columns was deemed structurally unsound. The team was forced to envision ways in which the building’s support could be focused upon two points. While two ordinary columns would have left them with a heavy roof, the Pavilion’s “trees spiral inside and outside creating enough tension to hold the basket together” and allow for an “expressive and light” look that hides their true strength. “From there,” Copeland pointed to the ceiling, “a glass curtain wall hangs from the roof- no weight falls to the ground.” A feat that he said, “could not have been accomplished without the efforts of engineering firm, Thornton Tomasetti.” As for the whole concept of the building, Craig explained that “instead of taking the stone from around the base of the building, we took cues from the Winter Garden’s Hudson River facing view.” The result is a building that “demonstrates resiliency as a culture and promotes a feeling of transparency instead of creating another stone fortress.” Rochelle Thomas received an M.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and is the Membership Assistant at the AIA New York Chapter.
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Biking in the Bay
Improvements at the intersection of Duncan and Valencia.
Courtesy Mobility lab

Consistently ranked as one of the most bike friendly cities in the United States, San Francisco—where over 3 percent of the population commutes by bicycle—has its sights aimed high. The long-term bicycle plan put into effect five years ago—officially dubbed the 2009 San Francisco Bicycle Plan––has lofty aims to increase bike ridership to 20 percent by 2020 through a series of projects. As of this year, 87 percent of the projects, or 52 out of the 60 projects in the 2009 plan, are complete.

This past year the Bay Area Bike Share opened, and other initiatives will soon see the light of day. A long-term goal includes adding over 30 miles of bike lanes to the more than 45 miles that currently exist in the city. Officials want to make cycling safer and more appealing to everyone. “We are focusing on better connecting the bike network. We don’t want a fragmented approach,” said San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) spokesperson, Ben Jose.

Opened last year, the Bay Area Bike Share (BABS) now has 3,000 annual members and 28,000 casual riders (those with one or three day passes). There are 350 bikes and 35 stations in San Francisco, with another 400 bikes and 35 stations in nearby cities including Palo Alto, San Jose, Mountain View, and Redwood City. The bikes and stations are operated by Alta Bicycle Share, and received $11 million in public funding.

Mission and Valencia plaza.

Plans to expand are being put on hold. When the bike-share opened, the original plan was to push out 1,000 bikes across the bay and 50 stations in San Francisco within the first year. But completing this phase—distributing an additional 300 more bikes to the five Bay Area cities and 15 more stations in San Francisco—could take up to two more years. Alta Bicycle Share is changing ownership, and the companies providing the hardware and software for the bikes have filed for bankruptcy. The city wants to add 3,000 more bikes, but this would depend on securing an additional $25 million through sponsorships.

In an area that has become filled with coffee shops, cafes, and parklets, a portion of Valencia Street will get the first raised bikeway in the city (pictured, left). In an effort to improve north/south access, it will upgrade the southbound existing bike lane on a portion of Valencia Street, between Duncan and Caesar Chavez streets. The bikeway will lie in between the pedestrian sidewalk and the road.

This effort is part of the Green Infrastructures and the Mission & Valencia Gateway Projects, helmed by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the San Francisco Public Utility Commission. Along with the new bikeway, the project will also widen sidewalks, build two greened plazas, and install permeable pavement and rain gardens to help capture stormwater. Construction is expected to be complete by mid 2016.

Other raised bikeways planned in the city are on 2nd Street and Masonic Avenue. Each will add a fourth type of major bike infrastructure to the city that currently offers off-street bike paths, protected bike lanes that run along the roadway, and shared bike and automobile routes.

Another planned Green Infrastructure Initiative is the Wiggle Neighborhood Green Corridor. SFMTA and San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) are partnering on this project.

The much beloved Wiggle is a zig-zagged flat route (formerly a toll road) that stretches from Market Street to Golden Gate Park, enabling cyclists and pedestrians to circumvent the city’s hills. Bikers have been using the path for years, but new green sharrows were added in 2012 to make it easier for riders to see the route.

The Wiggle initiative is also focusing on improving stormwater management by bringing in new, permeable pavement. Traffic calming measures are also in the works, including a traffic diverter at Scott and Fell streets and a raised intersection at Page and Scott streets. Improvements are being funded by the Sewer System Improvement Program and the 2011 Road Repaving and Street Safety Bond. They will cost SFMTA approximately $1.4 million.

SFMTA is focusing on making several districts safer and facilitating greater movement in the city. One project, the Polk Streetscape Project, which will include enhancements like green bike lanes, protected bike lanes, and bulb-outs, is undergoing Environmental Review and will be up for approval by the beginning of next year.

SFMTA is also looking at collisions, and have designated areas in the city as Cyclist High Entry Corridors (CHEC). Two of these areas are South of Market and the Embarcadero Waterfront. Another focus is Howard Street in South of Market, which serves as an east-west connector. SFMTA wants to better organize the roadway so people are safer and better oriented. They will narrow existing lanes and install buffered painted bike lanes—a short-term improvement to increase visibility. This would be the first of 24 projects as part of Vision 0—an initiative to bring traffic fatalities in the city down to 0 by 2024.

SFMTA officials are also developing a concrete design for the Embarcadero Waterfront––a 3-mile-long, mixed-use promenade—and hope to have concepts ready by the fall of 2015.

It is not just about making isolated bike infrastructure improvements, Jose emphasized. “It’s about complete streets, a new look at public right of way.”

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New York City receives $191 million in federal funds for new Staten Island Ferry vessels
By 2019, two new Staten Island Ferry vessels should be crisscrossing the New York Harbor. Outside of the Whitehall Ferry Terminal this morning, United States Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that New York City had been awarded a $191 million grant to design and construct these vessels that will be more agile and storm-resilient than what's in the ferry's current fleet. These funds will also allow the city to invest in resiliency measures at the ferry's terminals and at surrounding public transit systems. This federal grant was just one component of the U.S. DOT's latest round of Sandy-related funding, which provides over $3 billion for resiliency measures for the East Coast's public transit systems. Roughly 90 percent of this money is allocated for projects in New York State and New Jersey. “The projects we are funding aren’t exactly what you would call glamorous projects,” said Secretary Foxx at the announcement, “many of them will be invisible to many riders, but they will give this region a fighting chance to withstand the kind of punishment that mother nature can mete out.” To prevent the type of catastrophic flooding seen at the South Ferry subway station during Hurricane Sandy, Foxx said street-level vents would be sealed and pump rooms would be flood-proofed. As the city and state continue to rebuild after Sandy, though, there are  difficult questions about whether areas that are especially vulnerable to rising sea levels should be rebuilt at all. When asked about that issue by AN, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the city would not stop building in threatened areas. “This region is home to 15 million people and clearly we are here to stay," she said. "I think our job is to make wise decisions about where to make investments, but, certainly, I think you can see from where we are in Lower Manhattan, which is one of the financial capitals of the world, we’re going to be rebuilding, and we’re going to making it stronger than ever.” Today’s press conference comes a day after roughly 400,000 people marched through the streets of Midtown, Manhattan in the People's Climate March—the largest climate march in history. Event organizers hope the massive showing will pressure global leaders to take action on climate change at the UN Climate summit this week. Ahead of that march, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City will attempt to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, based on 2005 figures. To achieve this very ambitious goal, the city said it will retrofit its 4,000 public buildings and incentivizing private building owners to increase energy efficiency. Specifically, the city pledged to invest in on-site, green power generators, install 100 megawatts of solar capacity on over 300 public buildings, and to “implement leading edge performance standards for new construction that cost effectively achieve highly efficient buildings, looking to Passive House, carbon neutral, or ‘zero net energy” ‘strategies to inform the standards.” Mayor de Blasio's climate plan builds upon Mayor Bloomberg's, which set out to reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.
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Product> Liquid Assets: Best Water Management Tools
Water has been called the oil of the 21st century. Whether too much (Exhibit A: Hurricane Sandy) or too little (Exhibit B: California, Texas, and the Southwest), conserving, cleaning, and controlling it has never been a higher priority for architects and their clients. From rooftops to underground, these innovative systems and products work to make the most of every drop.  Eco-Optiloc Unilock The L-shape format of this permeable paver ensures a superior lock-up that can withstand the pressure of the heaviest commercial loads. Small voids between units provide drainage into a sub-base. Custom colors available. StormTank Brentwood Industries An economic alternative to crushed stone or pipe chamber systems, this flexible system can be deployed for infiltration, detention, reuse, and pretreatment purposes. Cudo Water Storage System Oldcastle Stormwater Solutions Boasting 95 percent capacity, these snap-together components can be assembled to accommodate various configurations of pipelines and flow channels. Grasscrete, Molded-Pulp Former Bowmanite For constructing on-grade areas of pervious surfaces, these single-use forms are made of 100 percent recycled paper and are biodegradable. GeoPave Presto Geosystems A herringbone grid of recycled, high-density polyethylene cells with mesh bottoms provides stability for aggregate surfaces while acting as a natural, on-site stormwater management system. SkyScape Vegetated Roof System Firestone Building Products This pre-grown vegetated roof system integrates filter fabric, drainage panels, and geotextile into a single, labor-saving roll. Sedum mats use regional-specific cultivars. Rainwater Hog HOG Works Slim and modular, these rainwater collection tanks can be installed vertically or horizontally. Fabricated of food-grade polyethylene, the 50-gallon containers are UV-stabilized and impervious to light. Rainstore3 Invisible Structures A modular, stackable structure used to store stormwater underground, it exceeds H-20 loading standards, allowing construction of driving areas and parking lots above the system.
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Slideshow> The Manhattan Tunnels of East Side Access
The MTA has released a new batch of images of the under-construction tunnels for its “East Side Access” project. For the uninitiated, East Side Access is the agency's $10.8 billion plan to connect the Long Island Railroad with Grand Central Terminal. The project was initially scheduled to be completed by 2009, but, like so many large infrastructure projects, the East Side Access has been delayed. The project is now scheduled to open in 2023. All told, the project is expected to be $6.5 billion over budget. That was where things stood as of January. Just a few months later, though, there was more bad news for East Side Access. Newsday reported that  11 sinkholes were discovered by the MTA as it was digging in Long Island City.  The holes, which seem to be caused by heavy rain and loose soil, apparently didn't mess things up too much, however. A spokesperson for the MTA told Newsday that filling the sinkholes did not have a "measurable" impact on the project's budget or timeline. That's the good news. The bad news is that more sinkholes could form. In the meantime, construction is moving forward deep underneath New York City. Check out the MTA's latest photos of the project's Manhattan tunnels taken on July 29th.
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Bottom-up Urbanism
The Lowline.
Courtesy The Lowline

When James Ramsey and Dan Barasch set out to turn a defunct trolley terminal underneath Manhattan’s Lower East Side into an open, airy park, they launched a Kickstarter. It was 2012 and they needed $100,000 to build a full-scale mockup of Ramsey’s “remote skylights” which would collect natural sunlight at the surface and funnel it into the 60,000-square-foot site through fiber optic tubes. If it worked, there would be enough light to sustain photosynthesis.

The team met its goal in six days, and ultimately exceeded it by more than $55,000. The installation was created that fall and, for the most part, the tessellated, aluminum light canopy, with its 600 individual panels, worked.

Courtesy The Lowline

But in the year-and-a-half since, the Lowline’s 15 minutes have come and gone. The project has been eclipsed by other Kickstarter campaigns, including ones for a floating pool, a floating beach, a floating party island, solar paneled streets, and so on and so forth. The Lowline, however, is not dead; the non-profit behind the project has a full-time staff that believes the park could be a reality by 2018. “The past year, and going forward at least another half year, we have been primarily focused on advocacy politically, and refining our technology and design process,” Ramsey recently told AN in his Tribeca office.

The 2012 installation was an integral piece in getting the Lowline to where it is today; it raised the project’s profile and proved that the technology was actually viable: an underground park could be filled with natural light.

Courtesy The Lowline

“We learned a lot about the way the light actually behaves—physically and psychologically,” said Ramsey. “In order to actually have some sort of bearing or reference to how the natural sky works, it was important to strike a balance between directed parallel collimated light and ambient diffuse light.” He explained that he wants the light to create an inviting, timeless quality in the park.

This technology is still being refined and Ramsey was headed to South Korea to “suss out” an optics manufacturer the day after AN visited his office. But making the Lowline a reality will take more than technology—it will take cash, approximately $50 million.

Courtesy The Lowline

Ramsey and Barasch are not planning another Kickstarter. Instead, they are pursuing corporate support, public grants, and said they have received “several seven-figure pledges” for the project. That money, though, is contingent on whether the Lowline gets access to the 1.5-acre site, which is controlled by the MTA.

Ramsey and Barasch said they are making progress on securing the space, but a spokesperson for the MTA told AN “there is nothing currently happening with regard to this former trolley location.”

But that could change as the proposed site of the Lowline is directly adjacent to Essex Crossing, a 1.9-million-square-foot development designed by SHoP that is expected to break ground in March. While Ramsey and Barasch said Essex Crossing and the Lowline can exist autonomously, the projects could connect through the mega-development’s “Market Line”—a retail corridor similar to Chelsea Market. Doing so, they say, would significantly boost public space at Essex Crossing.

Courtesy SHOP

“The Market Line is going to absorb a lot of the commercial activity and the Lowline will have its own design autonomy," said Vishaan Chakrabarti, a principal at SHoP.

Since its inception, the Lowline has been racking up political and community support, but ultimately needs City Hall’s blessing to move forward. Ramsey has not landed a meeting with the mayor just yet. “Understandably, the new mayor has been really busy,” he said.

For the time being, Ramsey and Barasch are pulling together all of the Lowline’s disparate pieces so that if—or when—they get the go-ahead, the project can be executed quickly and efficiently. “This is not like the mayor issues an RFP and it trickles down,” said Ramsey. “This is completely bottom-up urbanism.”