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, , 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.

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 ’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.