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James Corner asked, "What will grow here?," thinking not just of plants, but of ecosystems, urban cultures and sustainable economies. Mr. Corner ˜ the founder of Field Operations, a firm specializing in urban ecology ˜ and a team that includes the Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and Diller, Scofidio & Renfro, the New York firm known for cross-fertilizing architecture with other media, decided that the best way to stay true to the wildscape's spirit was to "re-engineer" it with semitransparent cast concrete. Blocks of this new twist on an old material would be threaded with fiber optics for lighting at night, and seeded with plant life suggested by the Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf. At some points the path would be completely overgrown; at others, to be determined by the engineers Buro Happold, it would dip sleekly into a pool with a transparent bottom. In contrast to the nearby Hudson River Park, where people zip by in constant motion, Mr. Corner said, "the path will make people meander slowly. It will be broken up, fragmented, nothing will be straight on. The High Line is a different place from the rest of New York. There's a sense of slowness, distraction and otherworldliness. And that is what we want to preserve."

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