Design Process for High Line Officially Begins

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Design Process for High Line Officially Begins

Friends of the High Line and City of New York Release
Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

Design Master Plan to be Created in 12 Months

Efforts to reclaim the High Line, an unused 1.5-mile-long elevated rail structure on Manhattan's West Side, took a major step forward today, when Friends of the High Line (FHL) and the City of New York jointly began a process to select the design team that will create a master plan for the High Line's conversion to public open space.

Specifically, FHL, in conjunction with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), asking that groups of architects, landscape architects, urban designers, engineers, horticulturists, and other professionals form teams and submit written applications to be considered to design the High Line master plan.

Responses to the RFQ are due April 1, 2004. To view the RFQ, go to:

All questions about the RFQ should be e-mailed to or faxed to (212) 206-9118 by Monday, March 15. Answers will by posted on the RFQ Web site on Monday, March 22.

Design Team Selection Process and Timeline
The release of the RFQ begins the selection process for a team to design the High Line master plan, with a design team to be identified by mid-summer 2004:

  • March 1, 2004: RFQ issued

  • April 1, 2004: RFQ responses due

  • Mid-April 2004: 5-7 teams receive Request for Proposals (RFP)

  • May – June 2004: RFP responses due

  • July – August 2004: Design team selection

RFQ Requirements
The RFQ indicates that teams should be led by a firm specializing one of the three principle areas of expertise required for the project: architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. Other areas of expertise relevant to the project include but are not limited to: engineering, public art, lighting, horticulture, recreation, New York City building codes, and cost estimating.

Responses to the RFQ must include a 2-page statement of project design approach; a team description/organizational chart; and background on qualifications and previous work of team members.

A precise and complete description of submission requirements is included in the RFQ, which can be downloaded at:

Evaluation Criteria
All RFQ responses will be evaluated with a focus on these key selection criteria:

  • Demonstrated design excellence

  • Vision and feasibility of stated project approach

  • The experience of the architecture firm, landscape architecture firm, or urban design firm leading the team

  • Team balance between established and emerging professionals

  • Experience in the design, development, and completion of a public and/or cultural development project of not less than $25 million in total construction costs

  • Experience in development in New York City that demonstrates understanding of the applicable standards and regulations that will apply to this type of adaptive reuse project; inter-agency coordination and utility coordination; and securing necessary City, State, and Federal permits and approvals

  • Demonstrated ability to engage the community and the greater public in the design process

  • Experience in multidisciplinary teams and expertise in all necessary disciplines as defined by the team

  • Proven track record of timely and cost-effective project management, including meeting deadlines consistently, remaining within project budgets, and working collaboratively with other teams
FHL and City to Jointly Run Design Process
The release of the RFQ results from an agreement between FHL and the City of New York to jointly select a design team and create a master plan. FHL and City staff will administer the process with oversight from a steering committee comprised of FHL appointments and City representatives. An advisory committee representing community and public interests and elected officials will consult with the selected design team on a regular basis as the master plan is developed. Public engagement will be actively encouraged at open public planning sessions.

RFQ Follows City Support and Ideas Competition
FHL has worked since 1999 to reclaim the High Line for reuse as public open space. In December 2002, the City of New York declared its support for the project by filing to use federal "rail-banking" legislation to create a public open space on the High Line.

From January to July 2003, FHL conducted an open, international ideas competition, "Designing the High Line", soliciting innovative design proposals for the High Line. Because it was an ideas competition, "Designing the High Line" was not structured to identify an individual or team to be awarded a High Line design contract. Entries did not have to be practical or realistic. Rather, entrants were encouraged to be bold and forward-thinking—to create visions as unique and unexpected as the High Line itself. The competition was sponsored and run by FHL without City oversight.

In contrast, the RFQ is being jointly issued by FHL and the City and will ultimately lead to the selection of a design team that will be contracted to create a master plan for the High Line. While it is hoped that the master plan will embody the creative innovation of the ideas competition, the final master plan must be constructable, maintainable, and economically rational. The design team selection process and the development of a master plan will reflect those requirements.

Entrants to the "Designing the High Line" competition are encouraged to respond to the RFQ, and if they do, they will be assessed according to same criteria as all other RFQ respondents. For instance, emerging professionals might need to partner with more established firms in order to meet selection criteria.

Project Issues
The conversion of the High Line to public open space must still pass several important milestones before construction can actually begin. The Surface Transportation Board (STB), the federal body with jurisdiction over the Line's future, must grant a Certificate of Interim Trail Use (CITU), permitting the railroad that currently owns the High Line to negotiate a trail use agreement with the City of New York. In addition, endorsements from the State of New York are still sought for the project.

City, State, and Federal Funding for the High Line
The High Line project has received significant funding allocations from the City of New York, the State of New York, and the federal government.

  • In July 2003, New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller announced a $15.75 million capital funding commitment to the project.

  • In August 2003, New York State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried announced a $50,000 funding commitment to the project.

  • In January 2004, $500,000 in federal funds were committed to the project in the 2004 Transportation Appropriations Bill, thanks to a successful request by Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton and Representative Jerrold Nadler.
Additional funds are anticipated from public and private sources in the future.