In the middle of March, we attended a community meeting for the third installment of the High Line and shared James Corner and DS + R’s visions for the final stretch of the elevated rail line. While the meeting offered an in depth look as to how it would tie together the previously featured conceptual elements, perhaps the already daring project needs a little more spice…perhaps, the High Line needs Jeff Koons. The American artist has been in contact with the founders of the Friends of the High Line (the nonprofit which saved the railway from being demolished) as it is possible the public park could be outfitted with his lastest sculpture, Train, a massive replica of a 1943 Baldwin 2900 steam locomotive. Oh, and did we mention that the train would be danging dramatically in the air, suspended from a crane?
New Yorkers already encounter Koons’ art on a daily basis when passing by 7 World Trade Center where his Balloon Flower is situated (a red stainless steel sculpture that or perhaps in 2000, when Koon’s massive 43 foot flower Puppy was exhibited at Rockefeller Center comprised of 70,000 flowering plants covering a steel and soil structure. Both pieces share insight into Koon’s artistic inclination to highlight and distort the scalar and construction qualities of subjects derived from American mass media and pop culture. Plus, the work often generates an immediate and extreme reaction, as is the case with Koons’ lastest, Train.
With an price tag of at least $25 million to create and install, Train would capitalize on the industrial history of the High Line and as Koons told the New York Times, “represent the ephemeral energy that runs through the city every day.” Yet, the pretty steep price tag is a major obstacle for the endeavor, as Friends of the High Line must first raise multiple millions to complete the third installment of the High Line. Robert Hammond, a founder of Friends of the High Line, is hoping a donor would supply the financial backing to acquire the sculpture. Such a hope is not a wild idea as several donors have given enormously generous gifts to the High Line in the recent past such as the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation’s $20 million and Barry Diller, chairman of IAC and Expedia, and his wife, the designer Diane von Furstenberg’s $15 million gift, and CSX Transportation Inc’s gift for support the last section of the project.
While the rendering of the steel and carbon fiber train precariously hanging over the park at 10th Avenue and 30th Street may seem a little daunting, its interesting to note that New York is not the only city interested in acquiring Train. In fact, after conducting a feasibility study, Los Angeles is highly attracted to Train and so both cities may wind up with a replica in the future. Koons explained to the New York Times, “there’s some symmetry in this sort of transcontinental rail idea.”
What do you think of the dangling train? Will it add to the experience of the High Line, or is the project just as strong without it?