New High Line to Open in 2008

Event: High Line Discovered
Location: Center for Architecture, 09.25.07
Speaker: Robert Hammond — Co-Founder, Friends of the High Line
Organizer: NY Chapter/American Society of Landscape Architects

High Line

The High Line: NYC will be the world’s second city to boast a 1.5-mile linear promenade (the other is Promenade Plantée in Paris).

Courtesy Friends of the High Line

More than a year after the first grass-covered plank was removed from the abandoned High Line, the elevated rail bed is being transformed, and the first section running from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street is projected to open in 2008. Robert Hammond, co-founder of the Friends of the High Line (FHL), described the design-selection process and recounted the two international competitions that led to the final concept.

The last train ran in 1980. Since then, nature reclaimed the rail bed and the High Line faced demolition plans for much of the past two decades. The design team, led by Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro with co-opted engineering, lighting, and horticulture experts, seeks to preserve and reinterpret the industrial-meets-natural condition of the structure.

Concrete planks will meander the promenade, morphing into furniture and acting as a smooth walkway. Hundreds of plant species, selected by Dutch horticulturalist Piet Oudolf, will sprout through the seams of the curbs and create a patchwork of local perennials, shrubs, grasses, and trees. Running through the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen, the “park-in-the-sky” will be open at night, with low lighting illuminating the path allowing visitors to experience the city lights.

Hammond used a map to show the development slated to take place near the High Line in the coming years — including the Whitney Museum of American Art’s satellite museum to be located on Gansevoort Street at the gateway to the promenade. While the future of the rail bed from 30th to 34th Streets is still up in the air, Hammond said that the momentum of the FHL’s partnership with NYC and other supporters leaves room for optimism.