Construction Begins on the Vast Platform for New York’s Hudson Yards

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The construction of Hudson Yards, the biggest private real estate development in the history of the 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.

VIDEO: Liz Diller on the High Line, A Mile of Respite in the City that Never Sleeps

Liz Diller, one of the three partners of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, discusses the history of the High Line and the active design decisions which led to its success.

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.

“Immersive Bowl-Shaped Structure” Proposed to be High Line’s Final Gateway

© James Corner Field Operations and , courtesy of the City of New York

Friends of the , 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.

High Line Co-Founders Awarded Vincent Scully Prize

© Iwan Baan

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.

Zaha Hadid Unveils New York Apartment Block Alongside High Line

Courtesy of Related Companies

Zaha Hadid has unveiled her first commission: an 11-story, luxury apartment block planned alongside the second section of the High Line in Chelsea at 520 West 28th Street.

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 .

A Crash Course on Modern Architecture (Part 2)

High Line, New York, is a good example of what is to come. Image © Iwan Baan

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.

The one person, who is consistently thinking and writing about this problem, is Rem Koolhaas, a co-founder of OMA.

Chicago On-Track To Break Ground On Elevated Parkway

Courtesy of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

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 cousin.

Read more about Chicago’s unique proposal after the break…

Chelsea Market Upzoning Approved by NYC Council

Plans for along 10th Avenue; Courtesy of Jamestown Properties. Via Architect’s Newspaper

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 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.

Solar Carve Tower / Studio Gang Architects

Courtesy of

Jeanne Gang is about to make her debut, as the Chicago-based architect just unveiled the latest project planned to border 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.

The 4 Coolest “High Line” Inspired Projects

LEGO Bridge by MEGX

New York City’s has been such a success – both as an 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…

Update: The High Line + Koons

Image by James Corner Field Operations, , and . Courtesy of Friends of the High Line

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. 

Journey to the Center of New York: Can Design “Cure” Our Cities?

Plans for the Delancey Underground, an underground park made possible by fiberoptic technology. Photo courtesy of and Dan Barasch

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!” [1]

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.[2]

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. [3]

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 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.)

Update: Community Meeting / Friends of the High Line

Interim Walkway at the Western Rail Yards. James Corner Field Operations and . Courtesy City of New York and Friends of the

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.

Community Input Meeting / Friends of the High Line

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Are you an avid lover of the ? 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.

City Talk discusses the High Line and Delancey Underground

Professor Doug Muzzio of City Talk sits down with Joshua David and Robert Hammond, co-founders of Friends of the High Line, and Dan Barasch, co-founder of the Delancey Underground. The conversation focuses on the latest plans for the third and last section of the High Line and the potential of the subterranean public park proposal below Delancey Street. Muzzio states, “Ones a great West Side story, the other could be a great East Side story.” City Talk is known to discuss the important issues of City with the people who help the city function. Professor Doug Muzzio is a political analyst for CUNY TV and a professor at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs.

Video: A Conversation with Charlie Rose about the NYC High Line

© Iwan Baan

Charlie Rose discusses the story of the City with Amanda Burden, director of the City Department of City Planning, Diane von Furstenberg, High Line contributor, Robert Hammond, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Friends of the High Line and Joshua David, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Friends of the High Line.

Click here to watch the video on the Charlie Rose website.

Stakeholders Pledge to Complete High Line

Rendering by KPF

The stakeholders have publicly committed to develop the third and final section of the at the West Side Rail Yard, between West 30th and West 34th Streets. The private rail company and owner of the , CSX Transportation, Inc, have agreed to donate the last remaining section to the City of New York.

The city, along with the state and Related Companies, has pledged to “preserve the entire historic structure of the High Line at the West Side Rail Yards, including the spur over 10th Avenue.” This ensures the protection of the rail line as development begins in the historic area. Coach’s new 1.7 million square-foot global headquarters will be the first to break ground in mid-2012.

Part One of the High Line officially opened in the summer of 2009 and Part Two just opened this past summer. As announced yesterday on ArchDaily, you can now digitally walk though the High Line with Google Street View.

Mexico City’s High Line Park

Courtesy of Federal District Public Space Authority


To say New York’s High Line is a successful project is putting it very lightly.  From the moment the overgrown opened, thousands have flocked to experience the amazing public space and dozens have been inspired to incorporate similar urban reuse attitudes in their cities.  Ruth Samuelson shared Mexico City’s inspired project which seeks to apply the New York High Line’s sense of serenity to a busy intersection by mid-2012. “The High Line in New York seemed to me a fresh breath of air, completely.  Mexico City just needs – within so many streets, so many avenues – respite like this,” explained Daniel Escotto Sánchez, the general coordinator for the city’s Public Space Authority.

More about the project after the break.