Yitan Sun, Jianshi Wu/eVolo
Melissa Locker
March 30, 2016

Two architects want to turn New York’s Central Park into a sunken valley—and their design is turning heads.

Yitan Sun and Jianshi Wu, who are both recent graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design, just won a prize from eVolo web magazine for their plan to transform the beloved park into a “a hybrid multi-functional mega structure” created “not by building up, but by digging down.”

To make this happen, the plan involves sinking the park 100 feet down and lining it with apartments built out of reflective material to enhance and magnify the landscape. Their idea to transform the iconic green space into the centerpiece of a re-imagined Manhattan real estate landscape comes from a good place, namely adding affordable housing to a tight market and giving hundreds more families the chance to have a view of the park.

As New York Magazine points out, this isn’t the first time that Central Park—and its prime Manhattan real estate—has been the focus of a grand re-envisioning. In 2009, the Manhattan Airport Foundation jokingly advocated converting the "undeveloped area between 59th and 110th Streets" (a.k.a. Central Park) into an airfield.

While the plan makes for a fun, futuristic pipe dream, it really is just a fantasy as it would be nearly impossible to execute, as there are subway lines and water mains that run below the park. Plus, no one wants to see Frederick Law Olmsted’s and Calvert Vaux’s carefully planned park uprooted.

Besides, one of the things that attracts 42 million people to Central Park every year is that it’s so easy to access. Simply walk, roll, or ride in to the park and you’re transported to a natural oasis with almost no hint that you’re in the shadow of the city—until you are ready to grab a taxi to head home.

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