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Manhattan High Line Project Down to Four Finalists

By Jamie Reynolds

JUNE 04, 2004 -- Four teams of architects, landscape architects, engineers, and planners have been shortlisted by the City of New York and the nonprofit Friends of the High Line to present designs for a unique stretch of land along Manhattan's largely industrial West Side. The High Line is a 1 1/2-mile stretch of unused, elevated railway that the city and concerned citizens have been campaigning to transform into a public space.

The four final groups, each led by an architect, group of architects, or landscape architect, include:

—Field Operations (landscape architect); Diller, Scofidio + Renfro (architects); Olafur Eliasson (artist); Piet Oudolf (horticulture consultant); and Halie Light & L'Observatoire International (lighting designer).

—Zaha Hadid Architects (architect); Balmori Associates (landscape architects); Marilyn Jordan Taylor of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (architect); and Markus Dochantschi of studio MDA (architect).

—Steven Holl Architects (architect); Hargreaves Associates (landscape designer); and HNTB (technical designer).

—TerraGRAM: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (landscape architect); Julie Bargmann of D.I.R.T. Studio (industrial site designer); Neil Kittredge of Beyer Blinder Belle (urban designer).

The quartet of contenders was distilled from 52 initial responses to a March 1, 2004, Request for Proposals. The finalists' schemes will be submitted at the beginning of July and will go on display at New York City's Center for Architecture from July 15 until August 14. A winner is expected to be chosen later this summer. The project has already received a $15.75 million funding commitment from the city and $500,000 from a federal transportation bill; an additional $5 million may be earmarked in another bill that has yet to go through the House of Representatives, as well as congressional and presidential approvals.

The High Line was built in the 1930s so that freight trains serving the area's many warehouses would no longer run on the streets. It has not been in use since 1980. In December 2002 the city lobbied the federal board that controls the raised rail lines to transform it into publicly accessible parkland.

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