The third and final section of New York’s incredible High Line retrofit is finally underway with the release of designs for stage three.
As has been the case through the entire High Line redevelopment project, community collaboration and acknowledgement were present at the unveiling, with more than 400 neighbours, supporters and ‘Friends of the Highline’ offering feedback on the concept images.
The final section of rail retrofit will focus on the Rail Yards. At a cost of $90 million, with the funding supplied by donors rather than tax money, this section may be the most challenging yet. There are a number of considerations that must be taken into account throughout both the drafting and construction phases, not the least of which is the fact that this latest redevelopment stage is being coordinated with the larger Hudson Yards mixed-use development plan.
The project, which has been ongoing for over a decade now, has overcome challenges in the past, and the designers’ work on stage three promises to be the most exciting and complex addition yet.
While there are a number of different sections of redevelopment throughout stage three that offer their own flavour and style, there is an overwhelming feel of urbanity that is more prevalent than in the other two sections.
These sections include the 30th Street Passage, which will connect the rail yards with the already completed High Line parts. The passage will include a 70-foot high public walkway that will run through the planned Hudson Yards Tower C. As the green building foundation of this railway retrofit, the passageway will be lined with planting beds and balconies in order to promote positive environmental/public interaction.
The second section is the 10th Avenue Spur. Standing as the widest section of the High Line, plans for the spur have been presented in two different forms, one with either an amphitheatre-style seating arrangement and the other simply an open gathering space teeming with grasses and wildflowers. This portion of the plan involves a key location in the neighbourhood, designers explain, as it “serves as a visual access point to Hudson Yards.”
Further elements will include the Rail Track walk which will include an organic-looking plant design along train tracks, the ‘Peel-Up’ Design Elements which act as designer seating that seems to peel up organically from the wooden walkway, the 11th Avenue Access which provides access to the street below, lush plantings, an innovative children’s play area, and finally the Interim Walkway at the Western Rail Yards, which will give the public a single path through the original, overgrown rail line.
The aforementioned play area, or Children’s Play Beams, perhaps embodies the urban feel of the new section more than any other element. Original framework from the High Line will be uncovered and steel beams and girders will be covered with thick safety rubber. This will transform what was once a vital piece of infrastructure into a highly unique, highly urban play area.
The development continues to make cultural and historical connections back to New York and, impressively, does so in an environmentally-responsible way. As was noted by original creator Robert Hammond, the High Line has done more than create an environmentally-reclaimed space. It it has, and continues to, affect the culture and lifestyle of those around it in a positive way.
“I realised right after we opened that there were all these people holding hands,” says Hammond. “New Yorkers don’t hold hands. We just don’t do that outside. I think that’s the power that public space can have to transform how people experience their city and interact with each other.”
Work on the High Line is expected to be completed in early 2014.