Friday, March 16, 2012

How Low Can You Go?

The building frenzy in Manhattan isn't slowing down anytime soon. While Callowhill residents use the success of the High Line to justify their own park in the sky, New Yorkers are citing their own success to dig deeper. Literally.

It's being called the LowLine, and designers Dan Barasch and James Ramsey have secured an unprecedented $125,000 in donations.

Using modern technology to redirect sunlight they envision a subterranean park occupying an abandoned subway line, 60,000 square feet in all.

It sounds pretty spectacular, and if Manhattan was the vertical city of moving sidewalks and mile high gardens Hugh Ferriss once predicted, underground parks might sound less like science fiction and more like necessity.

But as crowded as New York is, it is just another big city. It has some of the most beautiful parks in the world, one of the biggest system of urban parks in the country, and dozens of neighborhoods lit by the sun that the streets of Bladerunner and The Fifth Element lacked.

Kudos on an exciting concept but that's what it is. If New York is blessed with enough wealthy eccentrics and a tax surplus large enough to ignore schools and services, more power to them. But most urbanites don't even like shopping indoors, and the LowLine is little more than a mall's concourse without stores. At best it's a nice quasi outdoor reprieve for joggers on a rainy day.

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