DESIGNING THE HIGH LINE
Ideas for Reclaiming 1.5 Miles of Manhattan
COMPETION WEB SITE WITH BRIEF
What is the High Line?
The High Line, a 1.5-mile-long elevated rail structure on Manhattan's West
Side, was constructed in the 1930s as part of one of New York City's largest
investments in transportation infrastructure, called the West Side Improvement
Project. No trains have run on it in over 20 years. A lush urban wilderness,
nearly seven acres in total, has seeded itself on the High Line's tracks.
What is the Vision?
Picture a hidden walkway lifted 30 feet above the streets on massive steel
columns studded with rivets. On it you travel down Manhattan's West Side,
overlooking the Hudson River, with views to the midtown skyline. It connects
the Hudson River Park to the convention center to a new transit center
to the new Penn Station. It carries you through West Chelsea, into the
Meat Packing District. It is the future, and it is built on our past.
Saving the High Line
At one time a small group of real estate owners argued to tear the High
Line down. But in 1999 neighborhood residents founded Friends of the High
Line, a non-profit organization, with the mission of converting the structure
to an elevated public space-a greenway or promenade. After three years
of planning, advocacy, and legal work by Friends of the High Line, the
Bloomberg administration was convinced: the High Line will be a compelling
public environment and will stimulate economic growth. In December 2002,
the City of New York took the first step in converting the High Line to
a walkway through federal rails-to-trails legislation.
What will the High Line Ultimately
In early 2003, Friends of the High Line launched a design competition to
bring as many ideas as possible to the table. It was an "open" competition,
which means anyone could enter, from anywhere in the world. It was an "ideas" competition,
which means that the "winning" designs will not necessarily be
built. Instead, the designs created by 720 entrants from 36 countries will
lead to lively public debate about the ways to make the High Line as beautiful,
vibrant, and original as the finest public spaces in the world.
Will the Winning Entries be
Built as Proposed?
No. Because "Designing the High Line" was an "ideas" competition,
its objective was to catalyze the development of truly original designs-but
those designs did not necessarily have to be realistic or practical. Rather,
they were meant to provoke public debate about what's best for the High
Line and to make the ultimate selection of a design team a more creative
process. The jury selected "winning" proposals that they felt,
through the designs' ambition and originality, embodied the extraordinary
range of possibilities that exists for the High Line's future.
From the 720 entries the jury awarded four designs monetary prizes of $2,000
apiece. Two special prizes were awarded: the JCDecaux Access Award, to
the team whose design best addressed the issue of access; and the Lady
Bird Wildflower Center Award, to the team whose design best incorporated
the use of native plants and wildflowers. In addition there were 10 honorable
mentions and 65 jury selections. We hope you will spend some time with
this astounding assortment of creative visions and share your opinions
about the ones you like best.
What are the Next Steps?
Friends of the High Line will hold an open workshop with members of the
community in the Fall 2003, with a selection of the competition proposals
serving as springboards for discussion. At the end of 2003, Friends of
the High Line will incorporate the community's comments into a Request
for Proposals, which will lead to the selection of a design team and the
development of realizable designs. At the same time, Friends of the High
Line will be working with the City of New York to ensure that a successful
trail-use agreement is negotiated with CSX, the railroad that owns the
Share your thoughts and suggestions about the entries with us. What do
you like? What don't you like? What other good ideas are missing? Please
refer to entries by their entry number and designer name.
E-Mail comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
to Get Involved or Stay Informed?
If you would like to attend the community workshop or stay informed about
the High Line project, please sign up for our e-mail newsletters on the
home page of our Web site located at: http://www.thehighline.org.
Not since Central Park was built 150 years ago has New York City had such
a revolutionary opportunity to transform itself through the creation of
a unique new public space. We want you—and we need you—to be
a part of it.