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Zaha Hadid put cultural institutions first. Her team, including Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Architects and Diana Balmori, a landscape designer, asked the Kitchen, Creative Time and the Public Art Fund, organizations with iconoclastic flair and a commitment to public art, what the city most needed in cultural facilities. They recommended flexibility.

Ms. Hadid unfurled a ribbon, a Möbius strip whose edges curl up to become benches or platforms or stages. To accommodate an ever-changing cultural program, Ove Arup, the engineers, analyzed eight sections of the High Line for sound levels and light quality. Those stretches that pass through old warehouses, for example, might be best suited for stages; others, for outdoor events, said Markus Dochantschi, a New York architect and team member.

Where the High Line terminates at Gansevoort Street, other entrants have suggested renovating an existing building as an entrance, but Ms. Hadid envisions an entirely new building for a variety of educational and cultural events.

Without entirely jettisoning the original landscaping, the Hadid team emphasizes an uninterrupted flow of human creative energy. More juice will come from photovoltaic cells lining the ramp as it weaves along the site generating enough energy, in theory, to help power the neighborhood.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company