Here Comes the High Line Part 3

What else can the amazing High Line team possibly do that they haven’t done before? It turns out the upcoming 3rd segment, the final stretch of the revamped historic freight rail line, which will run from 30th street through 34th street and wrap around the new Hudson Yards redevelopment project, will offer a performance space, an awesome new kids’ playspace, and more variations on the unique benches used throughout the park. The new segment, which also encompasses the “spur” that juts out at 30th street, is expected to open by 2014 at a cost of $90 million.

We’re seeing the concepts because Friends of the High Line Co-Founder Robert Hammond, New York City Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, landscape architects from James Corner Field Operations and architects from Diller, Scofidio+Renfro just presented these at a community input meeting. The High Line crew says that work on the new Hudson Yards, which will offer more than 12 million square feet of new residential, office, and cultural space, will be closely coordinated with the 3rd piece.

The new segment High line will wrap around West Side Rail Yards, which is still used by Long Island Rail Road, but High Line visitors won’t be looking at the train depot. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has leased the property to the Related Companies, the developer of the Hudson Yards project, to develop a new platform over the rail yards that will provide the foundation for all that new mixed-use space. The firm will also cover 30 percent of the costs of the eastern part of the new segment. The jewelers Tiffany & Co just gave $5 million. To date, more than $38 million has been raised.

Starting from 30th street and moving north, there are some exciting new features in the works:

Where the High Line currently ends at 30th street, there will be a new “30th street passage” that passes through a future tower planned for the site. “The 70-foot-high passage will feature planting beds and balconies projecting toward West 30th Street and High Line to the south.”

Then, heading east, a new segment called the “10th avenue spur,” which extends to the intersection of 10th avenue and 30th street and was once used to connect the rail line to the upper-floor loading docks of the post office building, will become a vantage point to see all of Hudson Yard. The High Line team writes: “One of the design concepts for the Spur features amphitheater-style seating, creating a unique opportunity for performances or casual gatherings.”

Another concept turns the spur into an “open gathering space surrounded by dense plantings of wildflowers and grasses.”

Heading back north again along the east side, we’ll see more of Piet Oudolf’s gorgeous naturalistic planting designs.

Among all the plants, which mimic the original self-seeded wild urban landscape, the design team is playing with the “peel-up” benches that make such a strong design statement throughout the first two segments. The High Line team writes: “In the rail yards section of the High Line, the peel-up bench design will evolve into a new family of elements to offer seamless transitions from the walkway to more seating, play features, planters, and more.”

Moving north again, there’s another major design component: A new street level access point at 11th Avenue at 30th street, which will bring visitors up to the “lush plantings, groupings of bench seating, [and] a unique play feature for kids.”

Indeed, one of the coolest features is a new play space that uses the High Line infrastructure — the original beams and girders — to create a safe, rubber-coated, urban jungle gym. The High Line team may have to reserve blocks of time so adults can use, too (it looks way fun).

While all this work is happening, it seems the details on the very north and western ends of the High Line are still being worked out, so there will be an “interim” solution: a path that winds over the existing landscape. Here’s hoping perhaps some aspects of the interim solution will be kept in place.

Somehow preserving just a slice of the unbelievable landscape that took root may actually be an ideal end for this remarkable project, particularly if it includes some sort of environmental education component or becomes a botanical garden for wild urban plants. There’s much to learn about how nature can come back, even in the unlikeliest spots.

Read a recent interview with Hammond on the history of the High Line park.

Image credits: (1) High Line Segment 3 Map / Image from Google Maps. Courtesy of Friends of the High Line, (2) Rail Yards / Google Maps. Courtesy of Friends of the High Line, (3) 30th Street passage / James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, (4-5) 10th Avenue spur / James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, (6) Planting design / James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, (7) Peel-up bench variations / James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, (8) Street Level Access Point / James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, (9) Interim walkway / James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro

3 thoughts on “Here Comes the High Line Part 3

  1. Nathan Elkins 03/14/2012 / 10:15 am

    A wonderful Public Space that has evolved from infrastructure nobody cared to see. NYC community wins.

  2. Rochester Landscaping 03/16/2012 / 7:02 am

    This is such a win for the city and I’ve really enjoyed watching this project develop.

  3. Hmmmmm 03/19/2012 / 7:58 am

    Looks like a great finish to the project. I will have to plan to visit to see it soon.

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