Early Reviews of NYC’s New High Line Park

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The High Line Park, designed by James Corner, ASLA, and Field Operations, with architectural support from Diller Scofido + Renfro, opened this week in lower Manhattan. The High Line has been a story in many major newspapers, as well as more focused sustainable design and environmental news sources. Bringing attention to the ability of landscape architects to restore post-industrial environments, create habitat for both people and wildlife, and make urban renewal engaging and attractive, the High Line may prove to be one of the major sustainable design and urban renewal stories of 2009. Here are some of the early reviews:

Nicolai Ouroussoff, Architecture Critic, The New York Times: “Designed by James Corner Field Operations with Diller Scofidio & Renfro, the first phase of the High Line, which opened on Tuesday, is a series of low scruffy gardens, punctuated by a fountain and a few quiet lounge areas, that unfold in a lyrical narrative and seem to float above the noise and congestion below. It is one of the most thoughtful, sensitively designed public spaces built in New York in years.” Read the full review and see slideshow

Metropolis P.O.V: “I was relieved this afternoon to find that the project—which officially opened to the public today—lives up to expectations. It is not only a beautiful and novel urban park, but a remarkably serene and even understated space.” Read the review, which includes lots of photos.

Richard Laermer, The Huffington Post: “Although the High Line is a major urban renewal effort, the park’s construction is emblematic of a core value that I hope will stick around once Wall Street bulls come out of hiding: We should reuse resources to create value for our audience and our customers.” Read the review

Yuka Yoneda and Jill Fehrenbacher, Inhabitat: “So what was our verdict? Well, while we view slick renderings of concepts for urban green spaces almost everyday, it is an entirely different thing to actually step into a completed project and see it with our own eyes. We weren’t sure if it was going to be possible for a starchitect-designed renovation to maintain the simple, stark beauty of the original, overgrown High Line – the one that had captured the imagination of so many Manhattanites in 2000. But we were impressed and pleasantly surprised! The feeling at the High Line today was one of excitement, optimism and pride that our city was able to take something that was just a gleam in our eyes a few years ago and turn it into something that we, and hopefully generations to come, can enjoy. For New Yorkers like myself, who are just witnessing the beginnings of an urban space revolution, the High Line is a tangible manifestation of what the future could look like.” Read the review, which includes lots of pictures.

Justin Davidson, New York Magazine: “The park itself is a pleasant stroke of green that revives the romance of industrial brawn. A lithe, glass-walled steel staircase hangs from a superstructure on Gansevoort Street, leading to a hole cut in the trestle. It’s a fine way to make an entrance into this Jack-and-the-Beanstalk world, where nature and design have been arranged to simulate neglect.” Read the review

James Russell, Architecture Critic, Bloomberg News: “The trees give way to shade-loving, rust-red ground coverings, spreading in the shadows of the Standard Hotel that straddles it on comely haunches. This is carefully coaxed wildness involving 210 varieties of trees, shrubs and plants that offer pinpoints of color and an endless variety of textures. A lot of effort has gone into making the plantings look as if they’ve always been there.” Read the review

Alex Bozikovic, The Global and Mail (UK): “The High Line’s in-between approach reflects a new set of ideas among landscape architects, who are focusing their efforts on the scars in the fabric of cities – like garbage dumps and railway lines. The park is an instrument to remake the city, aesthetically, environmentally and culturally.” Read the review

The Wall Street Journal offers a video tour, including brief interviews with some of the key figures involved.

In another article, the New York Post notes that not everyone is happy with the new park. The High Line may be seen as getting more security than other parks in other boroughs in New York City. Geoffrey Croft, NYC Park Advocates, said to the Post: “It’s outrageous. One park is being adequately secured with taxpayer money while the rest of the park system is abandoned.” Read the article 

Also, Majora Carter, Founder of Sustainable South Bronx, in an interview with ASLA, argues that a project like the High Line is less likely to occur in places like the Bronx, and wonders whether this is environmentally just. “The High Line is just a couple blocks from the Hudson River Greenway – one of the coolest parks in the City in one of its wealthiest areas; but in the South Bronx, we have 1/5 the amount of green space per person as the citywide average.”

Image credit: New York Times / Iwan Baan, 2009, Courtesy of Friends of the High Line

3 thoughts on “Early Reviews of NYC’s New High Line Park

  1. D.W. Sabin 06/25/2009 / 10:13 am

    We can all be very proud of what Mr. Corner and his team achieved with this design. It respects the industrial artifact without being prosaic and Mr. Oudolph’s planting design….true to form….was a perfect addition. I hope that this park will inspire a new age of linear park design , through the existing fabric of our urban cores, utilizing and adapting existing structures in new ways. Sachem Olmsted gave us rus in urb with Prospect and Central Parks but we can also remember how important linear connections of nature were to his work. This modern expression of the concept is a real gateway to new possibilities. Now, if only the Standard Hotel could limp off to Moscow where it belongs.

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