Sunday, February 26, 2012

In the News: The Low Line

Though we may be inclined to think of barriers or constraints as prohibitive since they limit potentiality, barriers or constraints may prove the spark that ignites an innovation.

I think of the De Lage Landen, or the Low Lands, those near-, at-, or below-sea level areas surrounding the Rhine, Schelte, and Meuse River deltas. The Dutch confronted their environmental limitations and constructed dikes, drained marshes and swamps, and reclaimed land (polder) from the sea. "God may have created the world," an old adage goes, "but the Dutch created Holland."

Or we might think of the proverbial bottom line. Considered a constraining factor--one wishes to see that bottom line not in the red but in the black, and yet there are always costs associated with the productive process, and limits on how much producers can charge for their goods--the bottom line has spurred many a business to innovate whether through technology (which has the negative effect of usually displacing workers), stabilizing operational costs (think of the assembly line as a mode of cost stabilization), or through a combination of other methods.

Or, think of low morale, which is the bane of an organization or community's existence. To remedy, we seek to stimulate a sense of belonging by doing unexpected things.

But gardening underground: well, now, that is a new kind of barrier, a new constraint that simply boggles the mind.

Until now.

If the West Side has its famed High Line, an urban garden scape situated on abandoned elevated rail lines from Gansevoort Street to West 34th, then the Lower East Side may eventually get The Low Line, a subterranean garden to occupy the derelict Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal under Delancey Street. The size of Grammercy Park, the Low Line (at 13 acres!) would offer green space to an underserved area of Manhattan, replete with fountains, pools of water, trees, bushes, flowers, and all things green.



Only in New York, no?

It seems the the Low Line's founders, have developed technology that would use fiber optic cables to channel light from lamppost-like solar collectors positioned along Delancey Street underground to alight the sunless world beneath. The two founders have a video at this website that explains the technology and the vision.

Talk about overcoming barriers. Talk about ingenuity.

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