New York, the city that never sleeps has a skyline filled with some of the world’s greatest architecture feats. The city, which has been traditionally labeled a “concrete jungle”, is seeing an exciting industry progression that is less about the concrete and all about the jungle.
Jumping wholeheartedly behind the green roofing phenomenon, New York is not shy when it comes to green initiatives. In fact, upon the completion of the New York High Line, they will become a benchmark in sustainable retrofitting.
This particular style of retrofitting is known as an industrial retrofit, where innovative designers take deserted industrial zones and turn them into sustainable living environments.
The New York High Line is the creation of founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond who created the group “ Friends of the Highline” back in 1999. It wasn’t until more than ten years later that their plans began to take shape.
Originally, the High Line was New York’s most expensive railroad. Spanning 21 km, it was built in order to eliminate the rising death toll due to the industrial traffic on Tenth Avenue, later nicknamed “Death Avenue”.
The line was in use from 1934 until 1980, when the final train ran its urban course. After its foreclosure, property group lobbied to have the entire line demolished to use the space underneath, but these ideas were abandoned, much like the line itself.
It lay as such until upon visiting the area, Mr. David realized that what looked like a desolate pieced of aged infrastructure from below was in fact kilometer after kilometer of a lush vegetative road.
It was from this initial viewing that the founders were inspired to create a parkland area above the heads of fellow New Yorkers.
Hired as the leads on the $50 million project, which was majorly funded and supported by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, were James Corner Field Operations, with the design team of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Due to the enormous proportion of the project (the reworked area will stretch approximately 1.45 miles in length) it has, and will continue, to be opened in sections until its completion.
Areas created include a bike path, seating and garden areas, incredibly design displays that correlate to their city location, as well as a planned Amphitheatre at the end of the line.
Even in its early stages of section completion, the park has a zero reported crime rate. This shows a great difference from the cities other key green space of Central Park, while also emphasizing the societal shift that the greenway is provoking.
The idea culminates in Mr. David’s comment during his Ted Talk on the project. He noted that New Yorkers were “holding hands”, a relaxed action that is out of character in the hustle and bustle of the city. The symbolism is extreme in its ability to communicate just how influential industrial green retrofits are in creating a modern city with sustainable values that is truly adding to a better way of life.