July 23, 2004
Field Operations and Diller
Scofidio + Renfro, with Olafur Eliasson, Piet Oudolf,
and Buro Happold
Zaha Hadid Architects, with
Balmori Associates, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP,
and studio MDA
TerraGRAM: Michael Van Valkenburgh
Associates, with D.I.R.T. Studio and Beyer Blinder Belle
Steven Holl Architects, with Hargreaves Associates and
Images Courtesy Teams Named Above
Last week at New Yorks Center for
Architecture, Friends of the High Line and the City of New
York unveiled designs by four world-class teams competing
to reimagine and redesign Manhattans High Line, a dormant
rail trestle spanning some 1.5 miles along the citys
Through the ever-intensifying efforts
of the non-profit FHL and its partners within the City, the
planning stage is well underway for this multi-million dollar
redevelopment of a unique urban space. The winning design
team will be selected this August and, by early 2005, FHL
and the City hope to have a masterplan that will allow construction
to begin in 2006.
The teams are each a coalition of architects,
landscapers, and artists, and their submissions are by no
means final designs for the High Line:
Field Operations and Diller Scofidio +
Renfro, with Olafur Eliasson, Piet Oudolf, and Buro Happold
This team has labeled its vision "Agri-tecture,"
a flowing mixture of organic and man-made environments, soft
surfaces and hard surfaces (including a bridge, mound, pit,
and "flyover"), with diverse grasslands punctuated
by open and enclosed gathering spaces. These will provide
various "gradients of intensity," seeking to transform
the "melancholic, unruly, unregulated" nature of
the structure into something "denser, more intense."
Each area will provide visitors with a different experience
of time: pacing, moving through it, seasonal change.
Zaha Hadid Architects, with Balmori Associates,
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, and studio MDA
This team has created a sleek and futuristic vision for the
High Line, a techno-friendly and rationalized environment
that seeks to establish a "connection between landscape,
topography, and architecture." The design includes a
"lighting vocabulary suggestive of water" which
emphasizes "the graceful flow of the High Line."
Open and enclosed walkways will traverse parks and public
spaces in a "choreography of paths," anchored by
a marketplace at the southern end of the structure.
TerraGRAM: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates,
with D.I.R.T. Studio and Beyer Blinder Belle
Their vision is a "park meander," a diverse array
of green environments laid down in the midst of extreme urbanity:
miniature forests, an urban canyon, and azalea thickets. The
team has based its ideas around an "eco-technology"
that is formed through "appreciation for this industrial
landscape and accepting it for what it is degraded
and in some cases toxic" though possessing inherent
beauty and a New York-style resilience.
The design takes special care to specify stairway access
from the street and various urbane vista points.
Steven Holl Architects, with Hargreaves
Associates and HNTB
This team plans a "suspended valley" with greenways
and pathways anchored on one end by an observation tower and
500-person event space, and on the other by a water-taxi pier
on the Hudson River. This extension of the existing span is
intended as a "reverse flow" of the High Lines
gradual shortening over the years. The teams landscaping
seeks to strike a delicate balance between public access and
undisturbed ecology. "I couldnt make it green enough!"
exclaimed Mr. Holl.