Realizing the impossible
The High Line
New York, USA
Built in the 1930s and last used in 1980, the High Line was a little known and long abandoned stretch of elevated railroad that spanned Manhattan’s meatpacking district when an initiative to determine the fate of the line began in 1999.
Demolition seemed imminent until, after a competitive selection process, the Friends of the High Line and the City of New York commissioned Buro Happold and Field Operations, Diller Scofidio+Renfro to create a masterplan for the reuse and reintegration of the railroad.
The overarching challenge on this project was how we could transform an abandoned and overgrown freight train track into a public park that will delight residents of New York and visitors to the city alike. It was essential to create a design that would marry the industrial past represented by the High Line with a sustainable future for the site, within this modern metropolis.
The idea to transform this desolate track into a beautiful park was realized through the concept of agriculture, which changes the rules of engagement between plant life and pedestrians by combining organic and building materials in varying proportions to accommodate the wild, the cultivated, the intimate, and the social.
Buro Happold created two structures to fulfil this ethereal vision – the Flyover is an elevated steel walkway engineered so as to appear to float above the main path, and the Cutout is a steel mesh deck providing views down to 30th Street below.
To further preserve the High Line’s unique character, the design give the appearance of remaining perpetually unfinished so that it can sustain emergent growth and change over time, forever creating a place of community engagement, connectivity and inspiration.
The success of the project has been reinforced with the redevelopment of the surrounding area that has occurred alongside this multi-phase project. Offering views of the Hudson River and unique glimpses of the cityscape from its third-story vantage point, the value of the High Line as a link to New York’s industrial heritage has been integrated into the opportunities it offers for the future.
Popular Vote Award Winner, Public Park Typology Category