Illuminating the High Line

Photo by Steven SeveringhausVisitors take in the moon while sitting on the Philip A. and Lisa Maria Falcone Flyover, the elevated walkway on the High Line between West 25th and West 27th Streets. If you'd like to observe the heavens through high-powered telescopes, join us for stargazing with the Amateur Astronomers Association. This free event is held in the park each Tuesday evening, weather permitting, from April through October. Photo by Steven Severinghaus

 

The High Line is an urban oasis, with an emphasis on "urban" – even amid the park's tallest trees, one is still very much aware of the city. Once night falls this impression is even greater, as flowers and branches fade into shadow and the lights of New York City shine brightly in the evening sky.

It is thanks to the High Line's innovative lighting system that the evening cityscape is visible from the park. Designed by Hervé Descottes of L’Observatoire International, the energy-efficient LED lighting is installed no higher than waist-level so that pathways are illuminated without creating overhead glare.

L’Observatoire's International was recently named the jury winner of the Architizer A+ Award in the Architecture + Light category for its work on the High Line. In honor of this achievement, we're presenting a collection of images that capture the magic of this innovative design, and have asked Descottes to share his thoughts on them.

Photo by Andrew FraszHere, we look north toward the Chelsea Market Passage at West 15th Street. "While creating a safe-feeling environment when darkness falls, low heights of lights eliminate glare for unique and spectacular night views of the city," Descottes explains. Photo by Andrew Frasz

 

Photo by David Markovic"The LED lights from the handrail illuminate both the promenade and the adjoining green space, where light invites visitors to comfortably enjoy nature within the city," says Descottes. Photo by David Markovic

 

Photo by Gigi Altarejos"All light fixtures are below eye-level, so what you see is the effect of light – not the sources themselves," Descottes says. Photo by Gigi Altarejos

 

Photo by Timothy SchenckSubtle lights glow beneath the radial bench, which curves above West 29th and West 30th Streets. "The visitor path is highlighted with lit handrails, illuminated benches, and accentuated areas of vegetation," says Descottes. Photo by Timothy Schenck

 

Photo by Mike TschappatIf you haven't experienced the High Line at night, you are in for a treat. The park is open until 10:00 PM in the spring and fall and 11:00 PM in the summer. Photo by Mike Tschappat

 

Photo by Jake Marsiglia"Keeping our sensory observation central, lighting design not only introduces functional lighting on an architecture or landscape, but also enhances our experience. The experience is completely different at night than it is during the day, keeping the sense of mystery and fascination alive," says Descottes. Photo by Jake Marsiglia

 

Photo by Emile DubuissonThe 26th Street viewing spur, pictured here, is a popular destination throughout the year, but particularly during the warmer months. The design of this feature meant to recall the billboards that were once attached to the High Line. As Descottes explains, "A lit frame is found at select vista on the promenade, inviting viewers to literally view and be viewed. The city and the city dwellers become a cinematic experience, framed by light." Photo by Emile Dubuisson

 

Photo by Emile DubuissonAlthough the Chelsea Market Passage is rarely empty during the day, this late-night photograph allows us to see the space in all its spartan elegance. Where trains once delivered ingredients for cookies, visitors can now enjoy snacks and meals from High Line Food vendors. As Descottes notes, "Memories from history are also part of the experience when the High Line passes through buildings. During both day and night, the linear fluorescent tubes create a rhythm of light and form reminiscent of the interior of the industrial spaces that were serviced by old freight line." Photo by Emile Dubuisson

 

Photos by Andrew Frasz"All of these fixtures were applied with discretion, creating a subtle glow that defers to the magnificence of the city and the rough beauty of this industrial landmark," says Descottes. Notice the understated lighting beneath the "peel-up" benches in these photos by Andrew Frasz. At left, we look north at Little West 12th Street. At right, we look east from the High Line across West 15th Street.

 

Photo by Iwan Baan"The staccato rhythm of light provides a nice texture and dynamic to the pathway and landscape lighting and compels visitors to make forward progress as they walk," says Descottes. "Being 30 feet in the air, as if you’re on a flying carpet with the whole city laid out before you, is just magical." Photo by Iwan Baan

 

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