The following is an excerpt from The Landscape Imagination: The Collected Essays of James Corner 1990–2010 by James Corner. In this passage, Corner discusses the work of John Dixon Hunt, and the qualities of Hunt’s work that he seeks to incorporate into his own (including his firm’s - James Corner Field Operations - redesign of the New York High Line).
Over the past two decades, James Corner has reinvented the field of landscape architecture. His highly influential writings of the 1990s, included in our bestselling Recovering Landscape, together with a post-millennial series of built projects, such as New York’s celebrated High Line, prove that the best way to address the problems facing our cities is to embrace their industrial past. Collecting Corner’s written scholarship from the early 1990s through 2010, The Landscape Imagination addresses critical issues in landscape architecture and reflects on how his writings have informed the built work of his thriving New York based practice, Field Operations.
The largest private project New York City has seen in over 100 years may also be the smartest. In a recent article on Engadget, Joseph Volpe explores the resilience of high-tech ideas such as clean energy and power during Sandy-style storms. With construction on the platform started, the Culture Shed awaiting approval, and Thomas Heatherwick designing a 75-Million dollar art piece and park – the private project is making incredible headway. But with the technology rapidly evolving, how do investors know the technology won’t become obsolete before its even built?
In response to New York City’s rapidly expanding population, NBRS + Partners has proposed a 40 story tall skyscraper that could help the city embrace its rapidly shifting demographics and size. Entitled “VIVO on High Line,” the adaptable steel-frame tower is essentially the vertical extension of the city’s beloved High Line park.
“The podium screen engulfs the High Line folding it in and extending the lifeblood into the building base, like capillary action drawing it vertically,” described the team.
Thanks to a group called Friends of the Flyover, Liverpool has become the latest city with aspirations to build its own High Line-style elevated parkway. The group have raised over £40,000 on the civic crowdfunding website Spacehive to conduct a feasibility study on the elevated Churchill Flyover, with the aim of creating a park, events space and cycle route. Liverpool Council currently has plans to demolish the flyover at a cost of £4 million – however they are said to be open to the proposal by Friends of the Flyover, who hope to show that they can deliver a better solution for around half the cost. You can read the full story on the Independent.
The construction of Hudson Yards, the biggest private real estate development in the history of the United States and currently the largest development in New York City since the Rockefeller Center, is gaining momentum. The vast infrastructural project in the heart of the city is set to enclose an active rail yard with an expansive platform, paving the way for 28 acres (and 17 million square feet) of commercial and residential space. Housing over 100 commercial units, 5000 residences, 14 acres of open public space, an enormous school and luxury hotel all on top of a working train depot, the project will directly connect to a new subway station and meet with the High Line.
The elevated railroad, which was designed to penetrate city blocks rather than parallel an avenue, saw its last delivery (of frozen turkeys) in 1980. By 1999, a “very strange landscape had formed, with a whole eco system around it,” says Diller. Advocacy for the site’s preservation began with two local residents, and culminated in its reclamation with the multidisciplinary collaboration of city officials and impassioned designers (namely James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and planting designer Piet Oudolf). “The High Line project couldn’t have happened without the right people, the right time and the right administration.”
Today, thirty-feet above the hardscape in the canopy of the New York City jungle, the High Line pauses for a meditative mile. “The high line, if it’s about anything, it’s about nothing, about doing nothing. You can walk and sit, but you can’t be productive,” comments Diller.
Friends of the High Line, along side James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, have unveiled what could possibly be the gateway into the third and final stretch of New York’s most prized parkway. Planned to mark the northeast terminus of the High Line at Rail Yards on 10th Avenue at West 30th Street, the “immersive bowl-shaped structure,” known as “The Spur,” hopes to bring a pocket of New York’s lush woodlands to the heart of the city.
The National Building Museum has awarded the 15th Vincent Scully Prize to Joshua David and Robert Hammond, the founders of the High Line in New York. In 1999 the pair formed the non-profit organisation Friends of the High Line; this award recognizing their efforts in transforming the abandoned structure is the latest accolade for the internationally celebrated project. David and Hammond were also awarded the Jane Jacobs Medal in 2010.
Read more about the award and the High Line after the break.
Spearheaded by New York developer Related Companies, the “sculpted” glass and steel residential development hopes to lure buyers with its expansive, double-height entrance lobby, communal garden, generous terraces, private courtyards, and, of course, exclusive views of New York’s most beloved attraction: the High Line.
Merete Ahnfeldt-Mollerup is associate Professor at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. This article originally appeared in GRASP.
Miss Part 1? Find it here.
Architecture is inseparable from planning, and the huge challenge for the current generation is the growth and shrinkage of cities. Some cities, mainly in the Southern Hemisphere, are growing at exponential rates, while former global hubs in the northern are turning into countrysides. In the south, populations are still growing a lot, while populations are dwindling in Europe, Russia and North East Asia. The dream of the Bilbao effect was based on the hope that there might be a quick fix to both of these problems. Well, there is not.
A decade ago, few people even recognized this was a real issue and even today it is hardly ever mentioned in a political context. As a politician, you cannot say out loud that you have given up on a huge part of the electorate, or that it makes sense for the national economy to favor another part. Reclaiming the agricultural part of a nation is a political suicide issue whether you are in Europe or Latin America. And investing in urban development in a few, hand-picked areas while other areas are desolate is equally despised.
Chicago is set to be the next U.S. city to park-ify on one of its abandoned rail-lines. First proposed back in 1997, the 2.7 mile, 13-acre Bloomingdale Trail and Park is proposed for a stretch of abandoned railway trestle dating from 1910, which has been lying unused since the turn of the century. And, even though it is already being compared to New-York’s High Line, the planners are adamant that the park will be an entirely different animal to its New York cousin.
Read more about Chicago’s unique proposal after the break…
Construction has exploded along the High Line ever since it opened: condos hover over the rehabilitated track and look out onto the Hudson, while the new location of the Whitney Museum is making headway on the southern end of the park as Google moves into its NYC headquarters to a building just a few short blows away. Now, the historic Chelsea Market may be looking at a facelift following approval from the New York City Council for increasing density in the building by developers, Jamestown Properties. The proposed vertical extension, which has made a brief appearance on a few architecture blogs, will provide the additional in demand office and retail space in the Chelsea neighborhood.
Jeanne Gang is about to make her New York debut, as the Chicago-based architect just unveiled the latest project planned to border New York City’s beloved High Line. The 180,000 square-foot office tower with ground level retail will replace an existing, disused meatpacking plant along 10th Avenue between 13th and 14th streets. It will feature a “gem-like”, glass facade that is intelligently shaped to avoid the disruption of light, air and views from the High Line.
Dubbed the Solar Carve Tower, the mid-rise structure is currently pending city approval and is planned for completion in 2015.
Continue after the break for the architects’ description.
New York City’s High Line has been such a success – both as an urban renewal project and a money-making tourist attraction – that it’s spawned quite a number of Copy Cats around the world (we found
18 19, listed after the break, but no doubt there’s many more…). Many, however, are more yawn-inducing than awe-inspiring. The following four projects are notably awesome exceptions.
Find out which projects made the cut, after the break…
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?
More about Train after the break.
Walk into the cafeteria at the Googleplex and you are nudged into the “right” choice. Sweets? Color-coded red and placed on the bottom shelf to make them just a bit harder to reach. “Instead of that chocolate bar, sir, wouldn’t you much rather consume this oh-so-conveniently-located apple? It’s good for you! Look, we labelled it green!” 
Like the Google cafeteria guides you to take responsibility of your health, Google wants to transform the construction industry to take responsibility of the “health” of its buildings. They have been leveraging for transparency in the content of building materials, so that, like consumers who read what’s in a Snickers bar before eating it, they’ll know the “ingredients” of materials to choose the greenest, what they call “healthiest,” options.
These examples illustrate the trend of “medicalization” in our increasingly health-obsessed society: when ordinary problems (such as construction, productivity, etc.) are defined and understood in medical terms. In their book Imperfect Health, Borasi and Zardini argue that through this process, architecture and design has been mistakenly burdened with the normalizing, moralistic function of “curing” the human body. 
While I find the idea that design should “force” healthiness somewhat paternalistic and ultimately limited, I don’t think this “medicalized” language is all bad – especially if we can use it in new and revitalizing ways. Allow me to prescribe two examples: the most popular and the (potentially) most ambitious urban renewal projects in New York City today, the High Line and the Delancey Underground (or the Low Line).
More on “curative” spaces after the break. (Trust me, it’s good for you.)
Last night, ArchDaily joined the community of Chelsea and Friends of the High Line in the crowded auditorium of PS 11: The William T Harris School eager to see James Corner and Rick Scofidio’s latest ideas for the third installment of the High Line. This last segment of the amazing elevated park project is the designers’ most crucial intervention as it culminates the strategies introduced in Phases 1 and 2 and must adaptively respond to new contextual relationships between 34th and 30th Streets. Corner and Scofidio’s eloquent and coherent presentation very much responded to the community’s input from the last public meeting held in December, as the design addressed the need for a child’s play area with an idea for a section with rubberized beams, a place for spontaneous and planned performances, and more seating. Scofidio kidded, “There are some things we could do better, and that’s exactly why we get to do the third phase.”
More about Phase 3 after the break.
Are you an avid lover of the High Line? If you’ve been keeping up with our coverage of the project by James Corner Field Operations and DS+R, then you have been following the development of the High Line’s different sections – such as the early stages for a the design of the Gansevoort entrance and elevated street ampitheater of Stage One, and the picture frame and tree fly over of Stage Two. And, yet the amazing public space is still developing further. Friends of the High Line are presenting initial design concepts for the rail yards section of the High Line, which requires new zoning that would preserve the entire rail yards section, including the Spur, as public open space. At a community input meeting on Monday, March 12, the High Line design team will share their visions and answer questions about the soon-to-be newest part of the project.
More information about the meeting after the break.