At the beginning of June the first section of New York City's long awaited High Line Park opened. Dubbed the park in the sky, and referred to as one of NYC's most distinctive public projects in generations, the mile and a half long park stretching from 34th Street to Gansevoort Street in the meatpacking district between 10th and 11th Avenues, is lofty in both its literal location and eco-friendly ideals. Built 'high' above the city in an abandoned space once home to railroad tracks constructed in the 1930's, this labor of love and $170 million project is a gorgeous, green retreat from the concrete jungle, and a shining example of urban revitalization done right.
Founded in 1999, Friends of the High Line, has garnered the support of nearly all the elected officials representing the High Line neighborhoods, numerous civic organizations, and thousands of preservationists, open-space advocates, design professionals, and civic-minded individuals and businesses from New York and across the United States. Designers at the helm of the project are James Corner of Field Operations and Ricardo Scofidio of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Corner offers, "Our design aims to reflect its singularity and linearity, its straight-forward pragmatism, its emergent properties with wild plant-life... intermixed with ballast, steel tracks, railings, and concrete."
Hear more about what Corner and Scofidio have to say about their design here, at this Inhabitat-produced exclusive interview of the High Line designers. I was fortunate enough to get an exclusive sneak peek of the High Line the day before it opened, and I'm happy to say that the High Line actually lives up to all of the hype and hopes that have been pinned on it by the thousands of New Yorkers who fell in love with the mystique of the 'hidden park in the sky' in the last few years. Just one year ago, it wasn't clear that any human intervention would be able to live up to the bar set by the wild, natural beauty that had overtaken the abandoned railroad from the 1930s-- but the designers of the High Line have managed to achieve what few thought possible: taking an existing natural landscape and actually making it better through the power of smart, strategic design.