Urban Landscapes as Tipping Points
Since its opening in 2009, New York City’s Highline has become a go-to location for collaborative brainstorming sessions or rendez-vous with out-of-town visitors. What was life in the city without it? Climbing the steps at Gansevoort Street leads to a reinvented perspective on Manhattan, the Hudson River, and the possibilities for cultural fusion. With its four season planting design, the walkways shift in color and texture, revealing ever-changeable visuals of nature re-seeding a city.
Here is a video sketch of Sarah Sze’s “Highline Housing,” a bird habitat in residence on the Highline since 2011, an intersection of art, sculpture and function in echo-effect to the Highline itself:
Once an urban landscape shifts to new levels green, it provides a tipping point for urban eco-systems. Cities are living organisms, capable of generating power, energy and life force on multiple levels. New York City’s increase in bike paths, urban forest programs like MillionTreesNYC, expanded farmers markets and urban farms provide trending for the entire globe.
As Majora Carter expressed in this 2006 TedTalks, “Greening the Ghetto,” urban green space changes lives.
Since her appearance at Ted in 2006, Carter, a MacArthur Fellow, has become a global leader in the urban green movement. Her organization, Sustainable South Bronx, provides green collar job training, rooftop garden projects, green space initiatives and environmental education programs.
With the rise in rooftop farming, urban beekeeping, and locavore food businesses throughout the city, the urban ecosystem has reached a tipping point of influence on sustainability. With the addition of green space, urban vegetable gardens, the environment of neighborhoods shift and change. Studies by the Sustainable Cities Institute and other think tanks indicate that the addition of trees and greenery in neighborhoods not only enhances air quality and reduces water runoff, but lowers crime rates, creates new economies, and improves the general well-being of its inhabitants.
Upcoming projects in the #GreenNYC realm include the Lowline, a highly ambitious underground garden planned for New York’s Lower East Side, which aims to “transform an abandoned trolley terminal on the Lower East Side of Manhattan into the world’s first underground park” using innovative solar technology to access street-level sunlight to source the plantings below. The Lowline collaboration completed a successful Kickstarter campaign this spring, raising over $150,000 to launch the project:
Who knows? In a few years, the Lowline just might replace the Highline as the favorite meeting place in the city. Especially when it rains.