New York City officials just approved plans to build the world’s first underground park! It’s a huge step forward for The Lowline, which will be located in an abandoned subterranean train line in NYC’s Lower East Side. An innovative daylighting system will use fiberoptic cables and mirrors to pump sunlight underground to sustain a flourishing underground forest measuring a full acre in size.

Now that NYC officials have given the Lowline the green light, the park’s organizers have 12 months to raise $10 million, conduct community outreach, finalize the design, and submit detailed plans for further approval. The project was founded RAAD Studio principle James Ramsey, Dan Barasch of tech think tank PopTech, and money manager R. Boykin Curry IV, and all told it’s expected to cost $60 million to build.

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Last year Ramsey and Barasch opened a long-term laboratory and technical exhibition called the Lowline Lab to introduce the project to the public, and over 70,000 people attended. The lab has been testing lighting technology for growing plants underground, water collection systems, and ways to regulate air temperature.

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NYC’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen said: “The Lowline represents an incredible fusion of technology and public space. For eighty years, this underground space has sat idle. Now we’re putting it to use for the people of the Lower East Side and for all New Yorkers to enjoy. We can’t wait to see this experiment unfold.”

The LES Lowline will offer an inverse counterpart to the West Side’s much-celebrated Highline, which is built on a raised railway trestle. We’re all for the renovation of existing infrastructure and the creation of new green spaces, and we can’t wait to see what’s next – stay tuned for updates!

+ The Lowline

+ Lowline Coverage on Inhabitat