New York City is receiving some highly ambitious proposals designed to help achieve its environmental improvement targets.
In New York City, air pollution contributes to an estimated 6% of annual deaths. To help combat this, City Hall recently launched OneNYC, a comprehensive improvement plan which includes the goal of ensuring that NYC’s “air quality is the best among all large US cities”, part of which is an initiative to plant some 950,000 trees. In fact the term of office of Michael Bloomberg –predecessor to the current mayor Bill de Blasio – who released an earlier set of targets under PlaNYC, was marked by the opening in 2009 of the High Line, a disused railway track redesigned for pedestrians as an area filled with green spaces and, that same year, the closure to motorised traffic of two sections of Broadway, transforming Times Square into a pedestrian zone. Six years on, a number of individuals and private sector companies have taken up the torch, putting forward initiatives which could turn the Big Apple into a real smart city.
Following the High Line, we now have the Lowline. Ex-NASA engineer and architecture practice head James Ramsey has co-founded the Lowline Lab, an underground laboratory set up below the pavements of Manhattan, where all sorts of plants and trees are growing thanks to a process which Ramsey invented to collect light on the surface and redistribute it below ground. Looking further ahead, this former satellite designer is hoping to transform the former Williamsburg trolley terminal – an area of about a hectare which was closed in 1948 – into the first-ever underground park.
The Green Line project designed by Perkins Eastman architects
More recently city architecture and design firm Perkins Eastman submitted a similar pioneering proposal to the New York City council. The basic idea behind the Green Line venture is to create a green diagonal stretching along forty blocks of Broadway. It would be an entirely green area, closed off to all motorised vehicles apart from ambulances, fire & rescue vehicles and police cars – a kind of park running through the heart of Manhattan.