The High Line made a name for itself by turning land atop an elevated rail line into a flourishing park, but can the same be done for spaces underneath these kinds of structures? The Design Trust for Public Space is embarking on a plan to transform areas under New York City’s plentiful bridges, elevated highways, subways and rail lines into places for community engagement and artistic inspiration. Their project, Under the Elevated: Reclaiming Space, Connecting Communities, will bring together local community leaders, planners, architects, artists, and cultural organizations to develop strategies to maximize the functionality and use of these often-abandoned and sometimes downright scary areas.
“Much of the space below NYC’s elevated transit infrastructure is composed of either parking, storage, or vacant space. We see an opportunity to increase the functionality of these spaces and identify permanent or temporary uses that will enliven the public realm of neighboring communities. For example, we are pleased that the Chinatown Partnership will be a collaborator on this project,” says Wendy Feuer, Assistant Commissioner for Urban Design & Art at DOT. “By working with the Design Trust to develop guidelines for the design and use of these spaces, we can look forward to well-thought-out recommendations that will be respected by design professionals and community organizations alike.”
According to the press release, Under the Elevated will produce design guidelines in addition to programming and policy recommendations that will inform the transformation of spaces citywide and around the world. To accompany the new project, Design Trust is also calling for submissions for their urbanism fellowship that will focus on “life under and around elevated infrastructure in New York City” (applications due May 23).
Under the Elevated will succeed the Design Trust’s 2001 project, Reclaiming the High Line, in which a planning and feasibility study helped to rescue the structure from demolition. And we all know how well that turned out…