A Glass-Domed Subway Station Brings Natural Light To Underground Commuters

Many New York subway stations are dark, dank places, crawling with rats and covered in ancient grime. The design for New York’s new Fulton Street station, which opens next year, promises to be different.

Capped by an eight-story glass dome, it will filter natural light to the spaces below. The structure is held aloft by an intricate 70-foot cabling system suspended from an “oculus ring” at the top. It reflects light down to commuters from the outside using nearly 1,000 aluminum panels that cover the inside surface.

The concept comes from engineering group Arup, Grimshaw Architects and James Carpenter Design Associates.

Arup’s magazine explains that the early New York system used skylights on the street–“lenses in the concrete sidewalks,” the remnants of which you can still see dotting the sidewalk of lower Manhattan. But these got dirty easily, and were discontinued in favor of artificial lights.

“Subway authorities moved toward an almost exclusive reliance on electric lighting,” the magazine explains. “While this allowed for greater flexibility in station design, permitting construction at any location and depth, it also created a sense of disorientation and alienation for some passengers.”

Perhaps more natural light will make New York City’s commuters all feel more connected–or at least a little more grounded.BS