Opening Day on the High Line!

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[Staying cool at the Sundeck water feature near 16th Street this afternoon]
Today’s blog post was guest written by one of our new Greeters, Claudia Berger.

Today’s ribbon-cutting ceremony with  Mayor Bloomberg marked the unofficial opening day on the High Line. (The official opening day is tomorrow, Tuesday June 9th, when the park will be open for its first full day, from 7:00am – 10:00pm.) Once the ribbon was cut, the High Line saw its first visitors as the public came up.

I spent the first afternoon on the High Line acting as a Greeter, one of several Friends of the High Line volunteers who walk along the High Line answering any questions visitors might have. When you go up on the High Line, seek us out– you can identify us by our gray t-shirts with the green High Line logo. Most of the questions I was asked today were about the water feature near the 16th Street access point. As the day went on and got sunnier, this became an increasingly popular place to sit, so I spent a lot of time there talking to visitors.

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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.

THIS WEEK ONLY: “Designing the High Line” on Sale!

sale-imageUntil this Friday, December 12, we’re selling our recent publication, Designing the High Line, for $18, a 40% discount from its regular price.  Finish (or start) your holiday shopping by ordering a copy of the book, which contains detailed renderings and descriptions of all of the final designs for Sections 1 and 2 of the High Line.

This full-color paperback book is the only place to find a comprehensive selection of the final design renderings that were unveiled in June, along with historic photographs, maps, and construction photos.  With forewords by design team members James Corner of Field Operations and Ricardo Scofidio of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, among others.

This publication makes a great gift for any High Line enthusiast on your list, especially considering the fact that another High Line-related book, photographer Joel Sternfeld’s Walking the High Line, is currently selling for $549.00 on Amazon.com. 

For a preview of some of the images you’ll find in the book, check out the design slideshow on our web site.

Best of the High Line Blog

The High Line is well on its way to becoming New York’s first park in the sky, with plants taking root in late summer and the first section on schedule to open by the end of 2008. Keep up to date with the High Line’s progress here on the Blog, written by Friends of the High Line’s staff members:

Design!

Our new Design Video, produced by Brooklyn Digital Foundry, and made possible by the Trust for Architectural Easements.

Slide show of Sections 1 and 2 Design

Designing the High Line, our brand new design publication is now for sale on Amazon.com

Construction!

Site Photography: Planking Installation

Action-Packed Construction Update

Photo of the Week: Peel-Up Benches

History!

History Video, Narrated by Ethan Hawke

Chelsea: 1986

Westbeth High Line Section

Community News!

Chalk Shoes to the High Line

Florent: Don’t Cry for Me

Field Ops to Design the Country’s Largest Urban Park

Student-Run Farmer’s Market at PS 11 in Chelsea

And last but not least, the High Line’s favorite compatriot:

David Beckham!

David Beckham Bears All for the High Line, “Parts” 1 and 2

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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My Favorite Pool – Swimming Pools Part II

This remains my favorite proposal for the reuse of the High Line – a mile long lap pool. Nathalie Rinne, an architecture student in Vienna submitted the plan and as part of our 2003 Ideas Competition.

   

The simplicity of the idea, the singularity of use and the graphic way in which it was conveyed made it the favorite of the jury and one of four winners of the competition.  I think the David Hockney swimmer helped also.

Earlier: Swimming Pools Part I

Field Ops to Design the Country’s Largest Urban Park

[A rendering of the bird refuge planned for Shelby Farms Park. Courtesy Field Operations.]

Yesterday, James Corner from Field Operations (the landscape architecture firm heading up the High Line’s design team) revealed plans for the firm’s newest commission: Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, the 4,500-acre site that will be America’s largest urban park. (Central Park, by comparison, is 843 acres.)

A framework map (from the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy) shows an expansive, lake-dotted site with paved and non-paved trails, horse stables, ballfields, fishing, a shooting range, and several wilderness areas. The site was once a state-run prison farm, and a connection to agriculture is one of the goals for the new park. Field Ops’ winning submission includes an “agri-center” with daily farmers’ markets and a model sustainable farm.

Field Operations beat out Hargreaves Associates and Tom Leader Studio in the competition, which was announced last summer.

Field Ops wins massive Memphis park competition [Architectural Record]

Shelby Farms Website

Dispatches from the Nursery

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[Gay Kepple from Millane Nursery, tagging the tented Hamamelis Pallida for a planting area on the High Line]

Sierra Bainbridge and Maura Rockcastle at Field Operations, the landscape architecture firm leading the High Line design team, have been traveling to plant nurseries around the east coast in search of native plants for the High Line. Planting is projected to begin this spring. Sierra explains what the trips are all about:

“We’re scouring native plant nurseries throughout the region, searching for many of the native trees and shrubs proposed for the High Line.  Some of the native material we have found is a little smaller than planned, which only means it will have more time to naturalize and grow into its new environment.

Our first tagging trip was on February 28, to the north fork of Long Island. There we tagged the first tree for the High Line, the Koelreuteria paniculata (Goldenrain tree) for the area around the stair entrance to the High Line at 14th street. Because the planting beds have very shallow depths, we are planting lots of smaller trees and shrubs so that they will fit and acclimatize to the conditions on the High Line as they grow. We measured a few pre-dug Koelreuteria rootballs to ensure they would fit into the shallow depths of their planting bed, but we ended up choosing trees that are still in the field. We saw a lot of other great plants that day, but we went only for the lovely Koelreuteria.”

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[Sierra, left, tagging the first tree for the High Line, with Annette Wilkus from SiteWorks, the planting contract manager. ]

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[Tagging the Koelreuteria paniculata]

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[Measuring the rootballs]

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Gardens Inspired by Nature

On Tuesday night we had our first membership event: a lecture with the High Line’s planting designer, Piet Oudolf. You may have seen Piet’s beautiful work in the gardens at Battery Park City, Millennium Park in Chicago, or at other sites elsewhere around the world.

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Piet discussed his theory of planting design, which he describes as “inspired by nature”. He then took us through the planting design plan for the High Line. The planting beds will vary based on the landscape design; some areas will be planted to feel more like a meadow, some a prairie, some woodland, and so on. This variation is based on the different microclimates that developed naturally on the High Line after trains stopped running on it. Piet also uses perennials that require less maintenance, and will look good throughout all four seasons.

‘Brown is also a color': Planting Design Piet Oudolf Accepts Death

Another one of Piet’s presentations is on our website.

Photos from Tuesday’s presentation are after the jump.

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Gearing Up for Meatpacking District Design Week

Design Week

Our neighbors at The Meatpacking District Initiative have just announced some details about Meatpacking District Design Week 2008, happening the weekend of May 16-18.  Design Week events typically include afternoon and evening exhibitions, product launches, panel discussions, art installations, and cocktail parties, all held in venues, stores, and restaurants around the Meatpacking District.  The showcase happens every spring and is timed to coincide with the International Contemporary Furniture Fair.

For the third year in a row, Friends of the High Line will be taking part in the weekend.  This time, we’re partnering with the Apple Store on West 14th and Ninth Avenue to host an exhibition of brand new High Line construction photography.  The Apple Store will also serve as the Desgin Week “hub,” where visitors can pick up a neighborhood guide and find out about all the exciting activities going on each day.  Stay tuned to our e-newsletter and this space for more details (and an invite to our cocktail party!) over the next couple of months.

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