Inhabitat: Why do you think the Lower East Side needs a project like this?
James Ramsey:This particular pocket of the Lower East Side is one of the richest cultural pockets in the country, and it’s where most of our grandparents first lived when they came to this country. At the same time, it’s a neighborhood that has been sort of historically overlooked by planners and the powers that be. The idea that we can actually reclaim this space via the use of technology, and to create a community amenity for one that’s historically been overlooked, really, is something that’s been very powerful to me and that resonates with the idea of actually beginning to stitch back together a tear in the urban fabric.
Inhabitat: So this project is so awesome – we really want to see it come to fruition. What do you guys need to make this happen?
James Ramsey: This is a very ambitious project and a very complex undertaking, so we need all the support we can get. We need financial support so we can do all our engineering studies and create our proposal, and we need just grassroots support. We need to actually build enthusiasm, and we want people to be vocal to their leaders, to the local politicians, etcetera. We want to build a movement to create nothing less than a landmark for the Lower East Side.
Inhabitat: What kind of reaction are you getting for this project from the community?
James Ramsey: The reaction that we’ve gotten not only in New York, but around the world, really, has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic and positive. I think in a lot of ways we are hitting on some sort of cultural nerve. New York City’s the city I was born in; it is the city that I love, and there’s this idea that it’s an infinite city with so many layers of complexity. I think the underground spaces of New York — these lost underground spaces — are just another thing that hints to us here’s just more to the surface of this city than you might see at first glance. Something about that is currently resonating culturally, and it’s something that I think not only I, but a lot of people find interesting.