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Answers to the first RFQ questions submitted by potential RFQ respondents have been posted on the RFQ Q+A page of the RFQ Web site, http://www.thehighline.org/rfq.

FHL's 4th Annual Summer Benefit, chaired by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Diane von Furstenberg, and Edward Norton, with Alexandre von Furstenberg and Bronson van Wyck heading up the Steering Committee, will be held the evening of Wednesday, July 14, 2004. It promises to be FHL's best party ever. If you would like to join a benefit committee to help FHL sell tickets, please e-mail or telephone Juliet Page: juliet@thehighline.org or (212) 206-9922, x360.

All questions related to the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) issued on March 1, 2004, must be received by Monday, March 15, 2004. Please e-mail questions to rfq@thehighline.org or fax them to (212) 206-9118. Questions will be answered on a rolling basis and posted on the the RFQ Q+A page until Monday, March 22, when the final list of questions and answers will be posted. RFQ Q+A page.

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: http://www.thehighline.org/rfq

All questions about the RFQ should be e-mailed to rfq@thehighline.org 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: http://www.thehighline.org/rfq

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.

FHL seeks part-time office help on an hourly wage basis. Duties include preparing mailings, research, data entry and editing, and other general assistance. All applicants should be proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Internet Explorer. An interest in the High Line is a plus, as is residency in or familiarity with the High Line community. FHL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified candidates encouraged to apply.

No phone calls, please. All interested applicants should submit their resumes via e-mail and/or postal mail to:

Rick Little
Friends of the High Line
430 West 14th Street, Suite 304
New York, NY 10014
rick@thehighline.org

Manhattan Community Board No. 4 has invited the New York City Department of City Planning to present its Hudson Yards rezoning plans to community members and the general public.

Wednesday, February 25, 6:30 PM
Douglas Fairbanks Theater
432 W. 42nd Street (between Dyer & 10th Avenues)

For more information, go to CB4's Web site.

FHL has postponed its February 25 "Track Heads" event, which included an open house at FHL’s new office followed by roller-skating at the Roxy. The event has been postponed to avoid a conflict with an important community meeting regarding the Hudson Yards (see next story). The FHL open house event will be rescheduled for a later date.

Please join us at the first of a series of informal "Track Heads" get-togethers. Anyone and everyone interested in the High Line project is invited to come meet other supporters, FHL staff, and the exciting creative individuals who are part of this historic effort.

6:30 – 7:30 PM: Gallery Hour with Joel Sternfeld. FREE
Luhring Augustine Gallery, 531 West 24th Street (10th-11th Avenue)

7:30 – 9:00 PM: Cocktails at Marquee (cash bar, drinks half-price)
289 10th Avenue ( 26th-27th Streets)

RSVP suggested, but not required.

About Joel Sternfeld: Many FHL supporters know Joel Sternfeld for his High Line images, but the work of this great American photographer over the last 30 years has encompassed a global range of subjects. "American Prospects and Before" presents gorgeous, new, large-format prints of his celebrated photographs of the American landscape in the late 1970s and early 1980s. For information on Sternfeld and this exhibition, go to http://www.luhringaugustine.com. For New York Times coverage, click here.

About Marquee: Noah Tepperberg's and Jason Strauss's just-opened lounge on 10th Avenue, backing up to the High Line, was featured yesterday in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times. Designed by Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects, Marquee has been regularly mentioned in New York social columns because of its high-profile clientele. Marquee will be opening its Red Room early on Wednesday, January 28, and offering half-price drinks just for this gathering. For New York Times coverage, click here.

Friends of the High Line has moved to a new office. Please update your records to reflect our new mailing address and new telephone and fax numbers:

Friends of the High Line
430 West 14th Street, Suite 304
New York, NY 10014

Phone: (212) 206-9922
Fax: (212) 206-9118
E-Mail: info@thehighline.org

Dear High Line supporters,

We'd like to give you an important legal update. Yesterday an appeals court overturned a FHL victory that two years ago stopped a High Line demolition proposal from going forward. But since the Bloomberg administration now endorses the High Line project – and the administration reaffirmed its commitment to High Line reuse when responding to yesterday's news – we're confident that the ruling will not hinder our efforts to create a great new public space on the High Line.

Some news reports have made it sound like the High Line is imminent danger of being torn down because of this ruling. This is not the case. A statement from the City Law Department yesterday makes this quite clear. "The decision does not change the City's efforts to preserve the High Line as a public amenity," said Jeffrey D. Friedlander, First Assistant Corporation Counsel.

The ruling grows out of legal challenge FHL filed to stop a demolition proposal developed during the previous mayoral administration. Since that time the Bloomberg administration has changed the City's policy to one that favors preservation of the High Line for reuse as public open space and has been working actively alongside Friends of the High Line to move the project forward.

The Appellate Division's ruling does not pose an immediate threat to the High Line, given the City's strong support for the project. If, however, the City's policy were to change, this ruling might allow it to commit to demolish the structure without going through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which requires review by the City Council, the Borough President, and the Community Boards.

FHL is reviewing the appeals court ruling and considering possible recourse. Meanwhile FHL will continue to work with the City of New York to create a legal structure and a design master plan for the High Line's conversion to public open space.

Background

In late 2001, the final days of the Giuliani administration, the City of New York signed onto a proposal that would allow the High Line to be demolished. FHL challenged the City's participation in that proposal, asserting that ULURP, a mandatory public review process, had been bypassed. FHL was joined in its challenge by the New York City Council, the Manhattan Borough President, and six local business-owners and residents. In March 2002, a New York State Supreme Court Justice ruled in FHL's favor, finding that the demolition process was indeed required to go through ULURP. The ruling effectively stopped the demolition process from moving forward. Demolition proponents and the City of New York appealed. On January 15, 2004, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme court overturned the March 2002 decision.

Continuing Bipartisan City Support

The City of New York has shown strong bipartisan support for the High Line's preservation and reuse ever since filing in late 2002 for the start of rail-banking (the federal process that allows out-of-use rail lines to be converted to public open space). In July 2003, it presented bipartisan joint testimony in favor of rail-banking to the Surface Transportation Board by City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, and City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden. That same month, Speaker Miller announced a $15.75 funding capital funding commitment to the project.

FHL is confident that the City's enthusiastic support for the High Line project will continue regardless of the Appellate Division's ruling. The City appealed the March 2002 decision even after it changed its policy to one favoring the High Line's reuse because of the decision's potential to become a precedent in cases unrelated to the High Line.

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