The New York High Line officially open

Photos © Iwan Baan

In May 2003, James Corner Field Operations with Diller Scofidio + Renfro competed against 720 teams from 36 countries to win the infrastructure conversion project of the New York City High Line.  More than half a decade later, the High Line’s transition to a public park is almost complete.  On June 8th, architects, elected officials, and advocates watched as Mayor Michael Bloomberg cut the ceremonial red ribbon, officially announcing the opening of the first of three sections.  The new park offers an alluring break from the chaotic city streets as users have an opportunity to experience an elevated space with uninterrupted views of the Hudson River and the city skyline.

More info about the park, including an incredible set of photos by architecture photographer Iwan Baan and a video by Brooklyn Foundry after the break.

UPDATE: We corrected some credits of this project. You can see the full list here.

YouTube Preview Image
Video by Brooklyn Foundry

The High Line, which is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks & Recreation, was the former West Side industrial railway.  It is a 1.45 mile-long elevated, steel structure built in the 1930s for freight trains; the last train ran on it in 1980.  Stretching across the west side of the city, it runs from Gansevoort Street, in the Meatpacking District, through the West Chelsea gallery neighborhood, and ends at 34th Street, next to the Jacob Javits Convention Center. In 2003, an open competition was held to convert the existing infrastructure into a public park.

The winning proposal by with  includes over a dozen access points to the elevated park.  Whichever entrance is activated, a key component will attract users to spend time and explore the complete park.  For instance, enter a little past 14th St. and enjoy the sundeck and water feature; enter close to 23rd St. to lounge on the open lawn and seating steps; or enter past 26th St. to enjoy the viewing area.

Inspired by the wild seeded landscape left after the line had been abandoned, the team created a paving system that encourages natural growth which creates a ‘pathless’ landscape.  ”Through a strategy of agri-tecture - part agriculture, part architecture – the High Line surface is digitized into discrete units of paving and planting which are assembled along the 1.5 miles into a variety of gradients from 100% paving to 100% soft, richly vegetated biotopes,” explained DS + Renfro.  This undefined and unobtrusive environment allows the public to meander and experience the park as they wish.

Before the new landscape could take form atop the High Line, every component of the structure was tested and treated to ensure its structural strength.  As each piece of rail was removed, it was marked and mapped so that later, it could be returned to its original location as an integrated planting piece.  Energy-efficient LED lights gently illuminate the park’s pathways and allow the eyes to adjust to the ambient light of the surrounding city sky.  Lights installed on the underside of the High Line illuminate the sidewalk below.  For the vast garden, soil was delivered and distributed to specific areas and more than one hundred different species of plants, selected from nurseries along the East Coast, were planted by a team of horticulturists to match the plans created by landscape architects James Corner Field Operations and planting designer Piet Oudolf.

Mr. Bloomberg called the High Line, “an extraordinary gift to our city’s future….It really does live up to its highest expectation.”  The promenade has initiated more than 30 new projects in the nearby neighborhood, including Renzo Piano’s new satellite for the Whitney Museum of American Art.   The new space will offer greening opportunities, alternative transportation options, and social benefits to meet changing needs in urban environments.  It is expected that the radical infrastructure conversion will attract thousands from around the world in its opening season.

© Iwan Baan

To read more visit The Highline official website.

Design Team (2004-2009)

The High Line design team is led by landscape architecture and urban design firm James Corner Field Operations.

James Corner Field Operations (Design Lead)
Principal-in-Charge: James Corner
Lead Project Designers: Lisa Tziona Switkin, Nahyun Hwang
Project Team: Sierra Bainbridge, Tom Jost, Danilo Martic, Tatiana von Preussen, Maura Rockcastle, Tom Ryan, Lara Shihab-Eldin, Heeyeun Yoon, Hong Zhou
View Web site

Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Partners: Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, Charles Renfro
Project Designer: Matthew Johnson
Project Team: Robert Condon, Tobias Hegemann, Gaspar Libedinsky, Jeremy Linzee, Miles Nelligan, Dan Sakai
View Web site


Cite: Cilento, Karen. "The New York High Line officially open" 09 Jun 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • DiaphanousAbyss

    Thank you Iwan!

  • DiaphanousAbyss

    Better yet, thank you Iwan MaaN!

  • kc

    lets turn all highways to this =P

  • Nathan

    Field Operations led the design team, why is Diller Scofidio Renfro getting all the credit?

  • DiaphanousAbyss

    Field Operations = Landscape architects. Ds+R = DESIGN ARCHITECTS.

  • Nathan

    Field Operations is credited in almost all materials I’ve seen – including the High Line Blog, which I would take to be an authority on the matter – as the lead designer for the project. With limited building interventions, it is a bit unclear what the actual role DS+R had in the project.

  • Matt

    Are we all designers so we can get our names in magazines or on websites?? Why do we care about who is called the lead designer and who worked on the TEAM. Here we have a beautifully designed infrastructure-renewal project (which we don’t see many of in this country) and people are all caught in who gets credit. What happened to designing for design sake rather then being a star-chitect?

    • Kayser

      I believe it is an issue of ethics rather than an issue of being a “star-chitect”

  • Ultr@levure

    GREAT !

  • public eye

    aHHHH, Terrible, superficial architecture!
    What a waste of money!

  • aw

    public eye – you’re a moron.
    get outside and go for a walk.

  • cb

    DS+R designed all the access points for the project (staircases, elevators, etc.) as well as a few specific points along and underneath the park (cafes, amphitheaters, the likes)

  • toro

    It’s nice! lets hope people are willing to shlep their way up and actually use it! Have to say, I’m going to miss those graffiti trains…

  • 2MACoff


  • interested

    I agree that crediting Diller Scofidio + Renfro as the lead consultant team is poor reporting at best or disengeneous at its worst. Field Operations has been widely credited as the lead designers on the project and from my understanding the prime contract holder with the client. If anything the posting should read “designed by landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro” as is done on the high line website.

  • Robert

    Can I grow carrots and runner beans on it? Would have a made a great linear allotment for New Yorkers.

    I do appreciate the way it has become a wild flower park. Often abadoned railways blossom into areas of biodiversity even in cities like New York.

    Great photos I may add. The twilight shot is really good.

  • E

    The big effort of the project is done – publicizing a new way of regarding old infrastructures in a city. A new effort must be done – pay attention to whom and how much will use this place, analyze and learn with it. My experience is that the more architecture fulfill the eyes, the less social and used as supposed it is… Let’s hope this doesn’t happens here… Although this is not a great architecture project – it is just a great investment with great marketing with some “designy” stuff! Anyway…

  • panamArq

    so resourceful and inventive. The typical city would have just demolished this and melted down the scrap metal. what a great public space, I can’t wait to visit.

  • Tuf-Pak

    Don’t discount Field Operations…they were the driving force behind the design.

  • Fino

    Pretty neat idea. Very out of the ordinary project that can be beneficial to promote a moment of well being or tranquility in an otherwise bustling environment. Very nice.

    that is all.

  • INawe

    so glad its finally done. seems like it took forever. love the concrete forming and transition into wild flowers. so going to do that if i ever get a property with a yard. lol

  • Ladzono


  • ZipZap

    very interesting

  • Mary Hill

    It would be nice if DiaphanousAbyss disappeared into the last part of their name.

    Yes, I really think Arch Daily should properly credit Field Operations. Its completely inappropriate to have DS+R’s name at the forefront of this blog.

  • Macho

    I agree with 2macoff…completely on the money!

  • David

    NYC rocks

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  • GMan

    Eh, I think Field Operations did a wee bit more than pick the plants!

  • MC


  • otis


  • Partick Bateman

    Field Operations = Landscape architects. Ds+R = DESIGN ARCHITECTS.

    well done…a typical “arrogant architect” response.