I have been an early supporter of the Lowline and finally donning my Kickstarter Tee shirt, I had the opportunity to visit the Lowline Lab down on Delancey & Essex. As I emerged from subway and walked the streets of this lower east side, it was not hard to imagine what the city must have been like years ago in this lost quadrant of time, with its polished grit and scattered markets of low rise buildings. I must admit, as a NY’er, we tend not to travel much from quadrant to quadrant–my own being Hell’s Kitchen. In a peculiar way, NY’ers mimic so many of the dystopian sci-fi societies we read about, siloed into self-contained communities reminiscent of Hugh Howey’s Wool series.
If you are not careful, you will breeze by the lab’s opening with its undressed foyer of concrete floors, black curtains and little else. I was greeted by a smiling volunteer handing out cookies and eagerly willing to answer questions about this fantastic project. There is a collection jar for donations, cool Lowiine stickers for my already crowed MacBook cover and pamphlets of the project. Then it was time to follow the exhibit where you step behind a curtain and read a few stationary billboards about the history of the site, the project, designers… and yes… contributors 😉
The technology is fantastically simple yet highly complex and elegant. It concentrates the light from above and shoots it down tubes where reflectors receive and disperse the light onto ceiling tiles that seem to be as organic as the plants they feed.
Don’t try to look into the light source from above–it is blinding and more powerful than any spotlight I have ever seen; so bright it seems powered in this dark space. Click on the image to the right for a better look as it enters from the ceiling. I was amazed at how much light showered onto the lab exhibit from one source. This technology should be used in every building in NYC. For about the first ten minutes, I observed the technology. It was as beautiful as it was technical, making sure to diffuse the light evenly yet spot certain areas to accent and showcase the living lab, making it easy to forget that these plants have not seen the outside in almost a year.
140 Essex Street
(between Rivington and Stanton Streets)
Lower East Side – New York City
Subway: J/M/F Essex Delancey Street
Saturday and Sunday
11am – 5pm
Free and Open to the Public
October 2015- March 2016