New York’s Fulton Street subway station is promising to deliver something bright to the subterranean platforms – natural sunlight.

While subways generally exude a dark vibe in their underground environment, the new design for New York’s Fulton Street subway station promises to deliver something bright to the subterranean platforms – natural sunlight.

An eight-storey glass dome will be constructed to illuminate the subway entry and retail pavilion with natural light that will continue to stream throughout the darkest stops of the station.

The dome’s interior will feature a a large cable net that is suspended from an oculus ring positioned at the centre of the station atrium that will hold the glass in place.

The lattice-style net is formed through the application of 1,000 anodised aluminium plates which will act as mirrors and redirect natural light into the subway tunnels.

Fulton Street Subway Station Aluminium Panelled Net

Aluminium Panelled Net

The net is also a form-found structure, allowing its shape to be altered depending on environmental factors or movement force imposed on it. At its peak, the net stands at 70 feet tall with an average diameter of 51 feet, for a total area of 8,567 square feet.

In addition, a re-engineered platform will be installed and passenger access below ground will be upgraded to support better-flowing pedestrian traffic around the central space.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) commissioned engineering group Arup, Grimshaw Architects and James Carpenter Design Associates to build the intricate structure.

Located in the heart of Lower Manhattan, the new design will reinvigorate the area and is also intended to shift the “dark” perception associated with subways and reconnect commuters with the world above.

Fulton Street Subway Station Interior

Inside the New Fulton Street Station

On its website, Arup refers to the early New York subway system using “skylights on the street – lenses in the concnrete sidewalks- remnants of which you can still see dotting the sidewalk of lower Manhattan.”

Artificial lighting technology was used as the primary light source, but this have proven costly and difficult to clean and maintain.

“Subway authorities moved toward an almost exclusive reliance on electric lighting,” Arup 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.”

The subway station is one of New York’s busiest, linking eight subway lines with the upgrade set to handle an average of 275,000 commuters per day.

Fulton Street Subway Station Exterior

Fulton Street Subway Station Exterior

The project is set to be open to the public next summer.

By Angela Fedele