Since the very beginning, community input has played an important role in shaping the development of the High Line. This tradition continues today.
More than 400 neighbors, supporters, members, and friends attended the High Line at the Rail Yards Community Input Meeting on Monday, March 12 to see a presentation by James Corner and Ric Scofidio, of the High Line Design Team. The meeting gave our community the opportunity to be among the first to see the initial design concepts for the rail yards and to share their feedback directly with the designers.
Follow us after the jump for photos from the meeting and a summary of the public’s comments.
Now that all stakeholders are committed to opening the High Line at the rail yards as soon as possible, we have turned our attention from advocacy to design and fundraising.
The High Line at the rail yards represents one-third of the entire historic freight structure, and it runs for one-half mile, wrapping around a storage yard for the Long Island Rail Road, bounded by West 30th and West 34th Streets to the south and north, and 10th and 12th Avenues to the east and west. This storage yard will be the site of future development by the Related Companies, a real estate firm that has a lease with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to develop the property. The plan is to build a platform over the trains that could accommodate more than 12 million square feet of new office, residential, retail, and cultural space. Wrapping around this new development, the High Line will become an integral part of the plan and a historic link to the industrial history on Manhattan's West Side.
The rail yards section of the High Line is where Joel Sternfeld captured some of his most iconic photographs of the self-seeded landscape that grew up between the rail tracks when the freight trains stopped running in the 1980s. It is this same wild landscape that inspired the design of the High Line south of West 30th Street, and continues to inform the design process for the third and final section of the High Line.
At the community input meeting, James Corner and Ric Scofidio discussed how one of the goals is to extend and evolve the design of the High Line that is currently open to the public, and respond to the unique urban context of the new neighborhood to be developed at Hudson Yards.
(If you have not yet seen the initial concepts for the rail yards section of the High Line, you can view the design renderings on the High Line Blog or check out New York Magazine architectural critic Justin Davidson’s commentary and slideshow.)
In general, the community responded positively to the design team’s presentation, and expressed gratitude toward Friends of the High Line and its City partners for once again creating an opportunity for the public to be among the first to see and hear about the design concepts for the High Line. Many expressed an appreciation that public comments provided at the rail yards community input meeting in December were reflected in the designs.
“Bravo! Thank you for your extensive work and for including virtually all of our concerns and concepts and areas for kids, for congregating, planting, seating options, and all.”
Of all the new design concepts presented by the team, the interim pathway over the western portion of the rail yards was by far the community favorite. Winding around the Western Rail Yards, this simple path would run through the existing self-seeded grasses and wildflowers, allowing the public to directly experience the wild landscape that inspired us all in the first place. The concept was so well-received, that some warn that it will be challenging to move beyond it when the time comes.
“Be prepared for New Yorkers to fall in love with the interim section. Looks great! Make it permanent.”
Another favorite design concept was the idea for more play features for kids. The design team is proposing to remove the High Line’s concrete decking, revealing the gridwork of original steel beams and girders that would be covered with thick rubber safety coating to transform the structure into a space for play. Another concept turns the High Line’s “peel-up” benches into a seesaw. While not exactly a swing set below the High Line, as our neighbors Mica and Noa Yoder suggested in December, many in the audience were pleased with the design team’s approach toward designating spaces for kids to play.
Working with feedback from the community input meeting, the design team is now working to further refine the design concepts. We look forward to sharing an update with you soon. Sign up for our email newsletter, like us on Facebook, and follow @highlinenyc on Twitter for future updates on progress toward designing and building the High Line at the rail yards.
Thank you to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Manhattan Community Board 4, and our partners at PS 11 for helping us execute the community input meeting. We would also like to extend a special thank you to the New York Community Trust – LuEsther T. Mertz Advised Fund for supporting our rail yards advocacy initiatives. Thanks to their critical funding, we are able to continue our advocacy work to open the High Line at the rail yards to the public.