Over the weekend, students who took part in this year’s edition of the Lowline Young Designers Program unveiled their ideas for the proposed subterranean park. It was the opening of “Shaping the Lowline,” an exhibit at the Mark Miller Gallery on Orchard Street.
It has been four years since Dan Barasch and James Ramsey went public with their vision to create a 60,000 square foot recreational and cultural space in an abandoned trolley station below Delancey Street. The Young Designers Program, which has reached about 1300 kids in the past couple of years, is a partnership with a number of local organizations. This year, students participated from six different groups, including University Settlement, the 14th Street Y, Educational Alliance, Asian Americans for Equality, Grand Street Settlement and Henry Street Settlement.
On Sunday, we spoke with Barasch about the program, which offers young people who live in the neighborhood or go to school on the Lower East Side the chance to learn about science, technology and design. Ultimately, they create their own 3D models. He said the mission is twofold. First, it gives the Lowline team a lot of fresh inspiration about what the project should look like and what kinds of programming it should include. Second, he said, the program provides an outlet for kids to learn about a potential real-life scientific and design challenge. In the fall, the organization will debut a technology lab inside a Lower East Side warehouse. The Young Designers Program will be integrated into that project and hopefully, Barasch said, they can help lay the groundwork for future youth leadership of the Lowline.
And what about the status of the overall project? Last fall Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen expressed enthusiasm for the underground park. “We’re still engaging with the city about the potential transfer of the site from city control,” said Barasch. “The city has indicated interest in working with us to develop the idea.” The focus now is in detailing the plan in such a way that the mayor and city agencies can evaluate the proposal and either say “yes” or “no.” Officials in a number of agencies, including the Department of Transportation, are helping with the fine points. Branch hopes construction of the park will coincide with the opening of Essex Crossing, the mixed use development project. The first buildings are supposed to be finished in about three years.
“Shaping the Lowline” is on display at the Mark Miller gallery until March 29. The gallery is open noon-6 p.m. at 92 Orchard St.