Bloomberg.com: The High Line = good economics

resize-for-blog-dsc_3256[The High Line last fall, as landscaping crews began planting.]

All eyes were on our nation’s capital today as President Obama signed the stimulus bill (or, properly, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) into law. Before the $787 billion economic recovery package was finally approved, debate raged over how the funds should be distributed.

On that note, James S. Russell, Bloomberg‘s architecture critic, argued a point we couldn’t agree with more: “If you want bang for taxpayer’s buck, build parks and fund the arts.”

His recently published article on Bloomberg.com asserts that the arts spur economic development, citing the High Line as a prime example: “From an economic standpoint, starving the arts is suicidal. Consider the case of the High Line, the park in the Meatpacking District. The City of New York invested $170 million in the project, which directly inspired as many as 50 major residential projects worth as much as $5 billion.”

Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg.com.

Bloomberg: High Line is “the world’s most innovative park”

Mayor Bloomberg, speaking at the April 2006 High Line Groundbreaking Ceremony

[Mayor Bloomberg, speaking at our Groundbreaking ceremony in 2006.]

In his annual State of the City Address, Mayor Bloomberg focused mainly on his strategy for stabilizing the city’s economy and pulling it out of recession.  The plan he outlined in today’s address at Brooklyn College focused on three main areas: job growth, quality of life, and making city agencies more efficient.  According to a draft prepared for today’s delivery [PDF, via the New York Times], the first point of the nine-point plan focuses on creating jobs by investing in infrastructure— including,  in the Mayor’s own words, “opening the first section of the world’s most innovative park, the High Line in Lower Manhattan.”

The High Line is only one of the infrastructure projects the Mayor referenced that have created “25,000 construction-related jobs” this fiscal year.

Other points in the Mayor’s job creation plan include helping small businesses by launching more Business Improvement Districts, and creating “green” jobs by improving energy efficiency in City buildings.

The Mayor also emphasized the importance of improving quality of life in New York City, pointing out that 300 new acres of parkland have been created in the city over the last seven years, and pledging to protect the park system, “a precious asset that belongs to all New Yorkers.”

Another project the mayor unveiled: his office’s new YouTube channel, where you can watch a video documentary by Ric Burns, “This is New York City,” that preceded today’s speech.

Planting on the High Line!

High Line grasses and perennials arrived onsite at 6am this morning. Friends of the High Line Deputy Director of Horticulture Melissa Fisher is working on the installation of the plants along with the High Line construction and landscape team including: SiteWorks, Kelco Landscaping, Inc., The Plant Group, planting designer Piet Oudolf, and landscape architects Field Operations.

[Grasses and perennials arrived on site at 6am this morning. Once unloaded, all plants were sorted, counted, and prepped for topside installation.]

[Plants are craned up to High Line level for unloading.]

[Equipment is brought up to High Line level for use by the plant installation team.]

[Planting designer Piet Oudolf's signature planting layout was inscribed into the soil and numbered. Sorted plants are located according to a detailed map.]

[Perennials are placed in-between reinstalled rail tracks.]

Subsoil Delivery

[A mound of subsoil has been deposited in the future planting bed, and spread under the re-installed railroad tracks. Click all photos to enlarge.]

In preparation for the arrival of plants later this fall, a layer of subsoil has just been delivered to the High Line above 19th Street. This soil, part of the High Line’s layered Living Roof system, will serve as a base for the topsoil in which plants will eventually grow. Subsoil is coarser and typically contains more clay than the finer, more nutrient-rich topsoil.

Once both layers of soil are in place in the planting beds, they will be covered over to keep them from blowing away before plants are ready.

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Photo of the Week: Heat Wave!

[Photo by the endlessly talented Tim Schenck]

It’s ridiculously hot today. Of course, on the High Line construction site, that just means things are a little sexier than usual.

Earlier: David Beckham Bares All for the High Line

Site Photography: Planking Installation

Timothy Schenck, on our engineering team, has taken some beautiful site photos throughout the construction process.

More after the jump.

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Movable Chaise Lounge Mock-up Arrives!

[Members of the construction, design, and client teams meet to review the lounge chair mock-up.]

One of the most exciting furniture pieces on the High Line will be movable chaise lounge chairs located at the Sundeck between West 14th and 15th Streets. These lounge chairs will sit on the original rail tracks, mounted on new wooden ties, and can be rolled into place or set with brakes.

Unobstructed views of the Hudson River will make this one of the most desirable areas to visit on the High Line. 

This mock-up arrived last week and is installed near the Gansevoort end.

 

[Detail of wheel sitting on the rail track.]

More photos after the jump.

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Work Continues; Soil for Section 1 to Arrive in Early April!

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The landscaping of the High Line is one the most exciting aspects of this project. Much has been happening on site in preparation for this part of construction. On site, resident engineer LiRo and construction management team KiSKA are working with Kelco Landscaping, Inc., the landscape contractor, and SiteWorks, a site and landscape implementation specialist, to ensure that landscaping for the High Line is installed with the highest care and attention.

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[Filter fabric membrane installed at planks.]

The first shipment of soil is due on site at the beginning of April. Trees and shrubs will be the next to arrive on site, with plantings coming a few months from now. This layered installation process will take shape over the next six months on the High Line. Currently, a filter fabric membrane is being attached to the planking system. This is being installed to ensure that soil stays in the planting beds and prevents debris and other fine particles from entering and clogging the drainage system that runs below the planted areas. Once the filter fabric is in, soil can be brought to the site. An intricate irrigation system will be installed and distributed once all the plantings are in place. In the interim, plants will be hand-watered to ensure they properly take root and enjoy there new home on the High Line. Further down the line, other areas are starting to take shape.

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[At the northern spur, rails have been installed to what will be a preserve with native trees and plantings.]

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[At 20th Street, the end of Section 1, rails and planks begin to define the High Grasslands area.]

Action-Packed Construction Update

Section 1 is very busy right now as the team prepares for a delivery of soil in a few weeks. I went up this morning to take stock of all the action happening on the Line right now. Here are some highlights. Click all photos to enlarge.

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Tracks are being re-installed in their original locations, after being marked and stored on the Line during earlier phases of construction. Track installation is almost complete up to Little West 12th Street. Later, the areas underneath the tracks will be filled with soil, and plantings will grow up around them.

Tons more fun after the jump.

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Intended and Unintended Consequences

I made a brief visit to the construction site on Saturday. The design is really starting to take shape. We are just entering that wonderful moment in a construction process when there are enough pieces in place that you can see how they all come together; and yet, like one of those biological learning tools, the guts haven’t been covered up, and all the pieces are still visible.

Here’s the electrical conduit running underneath the planking system.

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One of the features designed into our erector-set-like planking system is that it is elevated of the surface of the structural slab on concrete piers, so that the conduit and other systems (irrigation, drinking water) can run freely as necessary in the open space underneath.

And now for the unintended consequence.

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It was a wet and very windy day on the line, and you can see how the planks are darker at one end than at the other, due to moisture collecting at the north end of each the planks. It seems that, due to open joints and airflow around the planks, the ends on the upwind face of the planks dry out faster than those on the downwind face. The result is this incredibly beautiful, subtle pattern on the surface. While we have always been interested in seeing the scale of the individual planks and revealing the modular design of the system, I don’t think we ever expected that it would reveal itself in this particular way.

Lucky us.

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