James Ramsey and Dan Barasch were sharing drinks in 2009 when they decided to seriously consider an idea that sounded straight out of a 1950s science fiction movie.
Ramsey, owner of the Raad Studio design firm in Manhattan, had recently been exposed to what lay under the Lower East Side’s bustling Delancey Street: an abandoned trolley terminal. The seed of an idea to grow plants inside the empty terminal using solar technology was already growing. Barasch, vice president of the social innovation network PopTech, was looking into installing underground art in the New York City subway system. Two years later, they released an outline of an underground green space concept to the public in the form of a New York Magazine feature.